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Our free meal students rarely go to uni
3:00pm Friday 23rd August 2013 in News
PUPILS in Thurrock who eat free school meals are the least likely in the country to go on to university.
New figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills show that in 2010/11 only 5 per cent of eligible students, aged 15, went on to higher education if they ate free meals at their school.
This compares to 35 per cent who went on to study at university who didn’t have free school meals.
Elsewhere, only 13 per cent of students in Essex who had free school meals went on to study at university while in Southend the total was 17 per cent.
The other poorest performing authorities are Norfolk (eight per cent), Lincolnshire (nine per cent) and Southampton (seven per cent).
The statistics show Thurrock has not improved since last year, when the figure was also 5 per cent, and has only been higher than 8 per cent once in the last five years.
Overall, 20 per cent of students who ate free school meals in the UK in 2010/11 went onto higher education.
The statistics will come as a blow to education bosses after it was revealed Thurrock also has one of the lowest entry rate to the Russell Group of universities in the country.
Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, praised the level of apprenticeships in Thurrock and said university was not the be all and end all for young people.
She said: “This Government is determined schools with the greatest need get the most.
“So parents have every reason to be optimistic about local schools, especially since our secondary schools are improving since breaking free from local authorities and becoming academies.
“I don’t believe the measure of how many end up at university is a good indicator of the quality of education provision.
“We have more apprenticeships here in Thurrock and many more good job opportunities.
“Frankly students are better off with a good apprenticeship than a degree from some universities. I don’t think we do our young people any favours by suggesting university is the best route for all of them.
“When I meet the wealth creators in Thurrock, most of them picked up their skills through in work training.”
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