Conservatives criticise ‘poverty of aspiration’

A question from Conservative Council Group Leader Cllr Spencer Drury has revealed that only 51 students from Greenwich Sixth Forms went to top universities last year (September 2012).


In answer to a question from Spencer, the Cabinet Member confirmed that only 6% of students from Greenwich Sixth Form went on to attend the elite Russell Group Universities.  This compares to nearby Bexley Grammar School (just one school not a whole borough) where 71 students went to Russell Group universities last year.


At the same time, the Council’s Best Value Review Committee ‘Maintaining Access to Higher Education’ seems to be mired in chaos, with 4 meetings cancelled and only three having occurred, none with substantial reports presented in writing to the meeting. 


Spencer said “Quite clearly nowhere near enough students from our borough are going to top universities and we have to establish why this is and how to challenge it.  While the 51 students concerned have clearly done well to gain entrance to Russell Group universities, the hard work which schools have done in improving GCSE grades now has to be spread to cover A levels too.”


“Greenwich has to challenge this poverty of aspiration to ensure that academic, young people from our borough can access the best universities.”


Greenwich Conservatives Group policy is to open a new Grammar School campus in the borough if they win the Council elections next year.  Conservatives believe that this will help support the most academic students in Greenwich into the best universities in the same way that the Royal Greenwich University Technical College being created by the Government will support students interested in engineering, construction and related industries.


Greenwich Conservatives note that:-


Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group has said: “A-level choices really matter. Too few students realise that some subjects and subject combinations keep open more degree course options at leading universities.” (


Education Secretary Michael Gove said earlier this week “More state schools must learn from the best and provide a strong grounding in rigorous subjects for more students.”  (




1.      The Russell Group represents 24 leading UK universities which are committed to maintaining the very best research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and unrivalled links with business and the public sector.  It is composed of:-

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • Durham University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • King's College London
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • London School of Economics & Political Science
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary, University of London
  • Queen's University Belfast
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University College London
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

2.       Bexley Grammar destinations for school leavers 2012 can be found at