Responding to a TES article entitled “Top unis' GCSE demands favour private pupils” published on Monday 19 August 2019, HMC Executive Director Mike Buchanan said:
“Heads of HMC schools choose qualifications based on those which will best enhance the education provided to their pupils and not whether they might provide some competitive advantage to their pupils over others.
“In this case, the journalist has looked at the theoretical exceptions rather than the norm. The majority of university courses require a 4 or C at GCSE for English and Maths. The lower boundary of a C grade is equivalent to a 4. The article fails to mention that applicants from state and independent schools in Wales and Northern Ireland apply to university with A*- G grading.
“To get into the courses mentioned in the article, the A level requirement is at least ABB so the chances of these students achieving the required grades at GCSE is very high.
“The article fails to mention that universities also use contextual admissions which take into account additional information, including school performance data and socio-economic markers, to provide context for individual applicants’ university applications and achievement.
“The article also fails to provide any information as to how many, if any, students have been affected by this theoretical possibility. The numbers affected are likely to be very small if they exist at all i.e. an applicant being preferred over someone else with the same A level grades but differentiated only in their GCSE/IGCSE attainment at grade 4 or C.”