It is with mixed feelings that I observe: this month, no fewer than five tender e-pilgrims have arrived at my blog following the Google search freshers week is shit.
To them I say: take comfort – you're not the only ones thinking it.
In August, before results day, Sir Martin Harris, director of the Government's Office for Fair Access, said he expected the A* to be "disproportionately achieved" in independent and selective schools.The grade "does increase the risk that the brightest disadvantaged young people may be squeezed out of the applicant pool for the most selective universities", he warned.
John Bangs, former head of education at the NUT and now visiting professor at London University's Institute of Education, [says]:"The A* is going to become essential for Russell Group (of Britain's 20 top) universities," he said on results day. "They will use it to filter candidates, the interview process will go out of the window, and it will be to the advantage of independent school pupils."
The real question is, did the A* widen the gap?Last year 19 per cent of A grades went to state grammar schools and 31 per cent to comprehensives - virtually the same as this year. But independents only managed 27 per cent of A grades in 2009 and so have gained a greater share of this year's top grade.So yes, the gap has widened, although not by a huge amount. Does that mean it will also help independent pupils tighten their grip on places in the most selective universities?