Gloria De Piero says Oxbridge should start taking more students from areas like Ashfield

It won’t come as a surprise to many of us that Oxford and Cambridge University have been shamed for recruiting more students from eight top schools in England than they do from almost 3,000 other English state schools put together, writes Gloria De Piero MP.

than they do from almost 3,000 other English state schools put together.

Gloria De Piero with student Bryony Toon

Gloria De Piero with student Bryony Toon

A degree from Oxbridge is a huge advantage for any career, but not enough people from ordinary backgrounds are being given the chance to study there.

Earlier this year, I met an extremely talented young woman from Sutton, Bryony Toon who was interested in going into careers in law.

Bryony, 18, is a care leaver, who was on free school meals and has had to work hard for everything she has achieved in life.

She is an A-grade student who has just had an interview for Oxford to study law – unfortunately she found the experience intimidating and off-putting.

She said that she didn’t feel like she fitted in because of the contrast between her background and that of the privately-educated students there.

This is something we hear time and again from people from normal backgrounds and it makes me simultaneously so sad and angry.

The Social Mobility Commission highlighted in a report last year that people living in former coalfield areas and seaside towns are less likely to get on and up in life than other areas.

I know from speaking to hundreds of constituents and to local schools, that aspiration can be lacking in Ashfield because people see certain achievements as for other people, not people ‘like them’.

A new survey from the Commission has revealed that young people today believe that success is based on social background rather than talent.

This issue needs real leadership from the Government in order to change but we have seen nothing from them on this yet.

In the meantime, I know that people like Bryony will defy the odds to make their lives a success.