Fair advice call for A-level results
A social mobility charity is sending volunteers to help provide advice to state school pupils receiving their A-level results this week.
The charity, MyBigCareer, wants state pupils to have fair access to personal advice about their options for university places or apprenticeships.
Founder Deborah Streatfield says she wants all pupils to have the type of support available in private schools.
"They have worked hard and need a fair chance," said Mrs Streatfield.
The charity has trained volunteer advisers to help in 10 schools, mostly in east London, providing individual support for pupils trying to make decisions after discovering their results.
Mrs Streatfield wants a level playing field when pupils get their results, particularly for those who have missed out on grades and are trying to decide their next step.
There will also be advice to boost the aspirations of those who have done better than expected.
She says independent schools often have well-resourced operations on results day to help pupils maximise their opportunities.
But she is concerned that some state school pupils are not getting the same support.
"It can make a huge difference," says Mrs Streatfield.
Pupils who have not got their expected grades can be "too distraught" to make phone calls and need help with making decisions, she says.
Apart from weighing up offers from other universities, she says young people can face daunting questions about accommodation and their finances.
Figures published this month showed that the gap in university entry rates between private and state schools has grown wider.
By the age of 19, 85% of pupils who attended private school will have gone into higher education, compared with 62% at state schools.
Universities including King's College London, City, Anglia Ruskin, London School of Economics, University of East London, Queen Mary and Imperial have helped to provide volunteers.
These will be at schools from 07:00 BST on Thursday, ready for pupils arriving to find out their results.
"Students can afford to be a lot more aspirational in getting places at more prestigious universities. Yet in disadvantaged areas such as Hackney they don't tend to have the support that gives them the information and the personal confidence to get into such universities," said volunteer Joanna Hemingway.
Hundreds of thousands of teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be getting their A-level results this week.
The limits on university places have been removed and there have been suggestions that universities will be competing to attract students.
"Many universities will still have places available on Thursday. It's a buyers' market out there," said Lucy Everest of Middlesex University.
The Russell Group of leading universities says that some of its members are expecting to have places available through clearing, the system which matches applicants with vacant places after the exam results are published.
The Department for Education is funding a free exam results helpline - 0808 100 8000 - which students will be able to ring to get advice.
It will be available from 08:00 to 20:00 BST on Thursday when results are published and will remain open for the next two weeks.
Helpline adviser Nick Hynes says: "Every year, there are students who don't get the grades they need for university, there are those who achieve better grades than expected and those whose career plans have changed since they made their original university choices.
"At such a critical and life-changing time, it's imperative that these students are clear what all of their options are, enabling them to make fully informed decisions about their futures."
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