Cockermouth School 'punching above its weight'

A Cumbrian state school has been praised for "punching above its weight" in terms of pupils securing places at leading universities.

Cockermouth School was praised for securing places at top universities for 37% of those who applied.

A Sutton Trust report found just five schools in England sent more pupils to Oxford and Cambridge over three years than nearly 2,000 others combined.

It said school data on entry to university showed "stark" differences.

Cockermouth secured nine places at Oxford and Cambridge universities between 2007 and 2009.

'Meticulous planning'

The report found four independent schools - Eton, Westminster, St Paul's Boys and St Paul's Girls - and state-funded Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge, together sent 946 pupils to Oxford and Cambridge between 2007 and 2009.

By contrast, 2,000 lower-performing schools combined sent a total of 927 students to the two elite universities, getting less than 6% of available places, the Sutton Trust found.

Cockermouth School headteacher Geoff Walker said he believed there were two strands to their success in university entrance.

He said: "I think the first one is to actually have high expectations, to have an achievement culture for the kids to ask them to aim high early on.

"Then of course, it's having meticulous planning in place to try to get those students into those places."

He said as well as achieving good results, success in university entry was also down to preparation and spending a lot of time on forms.

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