I’m a big fan of what Full Fact do – calling out media organisations and politicians over dubious claims they’ve made and misleading use of statistics. Although a small organisation, they have an impressive track record of getting dodgy claims corrected.
Widely accepted as being at, or very near, the top of British higher education, the question of who gets in to Oxford and Cambridge universities has been the subject of interest since the year dot.
State school pupils, students from minority ethnic backgrounds, those from lower socio-economic groups – all are groups that Oxford and Cambridge have been accused of under-representing in the recent past.
But one question that doesn’t seem to have been asked before is: where do Oxbridge students actually come from?
My story with Richard Adams for the Guardian suggests that undergraduates at the universities aren’t drawn evenly from across the country, with a golden triangle centred on Oxford, Cambridge and London contributing disproportionately many students.
A ‘golden triangle’ of local authorities centred on London, Oxford and Cambridge send a disproportionate number of students to Oxbridge, as Richard Adams and I report for the Guardian:
Undergraduate places at Cambridge and Oxford universities remain dominated by students from London and the south-east of England, according to data released to the Guardian, highlighting the country’s wide gaps in educational achievement and the stubborn failure of efforts to encourage applications from more diverse backgrounds.
Surrey sent almost as many young people to study at Cambridge and Oxford last year as Wales and the north-east region of England combined. Yet 868 applications were received from Surrey, compared with 1,187 from Wales and the north-east – which between them had more than 100,000 more young people in the comparative age group.
A single London borough – Barnet – alone had 130 offers of Oxbridge places from 408 applications last year. That equates to 46 applications and 15 offers for every 1,000 16 to 17-year-olds in the borough, according to the latest census figures. Meanwhile, Dudley in the West Midlands – with a similar-sized age cohort – had just 61 applicants and 13 offers, or seven applications and 1.58 offers per thousand.
Three London local authorities – Richmond upon Thames, Kensington and Chelsea, and the City of London – sent more than 25 students to Oxbridge per 1,000 16 to 17-year-olds in 2012, compared with an average of just over 2.5 students per 1,000 for England and Wales as a whole.
You can read the full story here, and an accompanying analysis piece can be found here.
The story was based on freedom of information requests I submitted to Oxford and Cambridge universities. I’ll be posting more about the data behind the story shortly.
Hackney Council has apologised after “a very small number” of families received details of other people’s children in primary school place offer letters sent out last week.
Sarah Miller, who lives in Homerton, contacted the council after receiving a pack that contained the name, date of birth and school offer details of another child.
The main letter in the offer pack related to Ms Miller’s daughter but a second document, which gave details of how to decline a place that had been offered, contained details of another child who shared the same surname.
Speaking to the Hackney Citizen, Ms Miller said that the incident was “pretty worrying”. She had been left wondering where the second part of her family’s offer pack had gone. “I don’t know who’s got the details of my child”, she said.
You can read the full story here. After I filed the story, Hackney Council confirmed that they were aware of seven offer letters that had been sent out containing details of someone else’s child.
One of the most interesting stories in Hackney at the minute is the attempt by a group of residents in the north of the borough to take on planning powers, setting up a neighbourhood planning forum by which to do this.
The proposal – which, to put it mildly, has split opinion – covers Stamford Hill and surrounding areas, and those involved have argued that changes to planning responsibilities are needed to reflect the rapid growth of the local population, including the ultra-orthodox Haredi Jewish community.
Details of the proposed Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum – and a rival forum proposal – can be found here. The Guardian also had a great analysis of the situation the other day, which drew out the back-story to some of the claims and counter-claims being made.
But what are the facts of the matter? Are the wards that would be covered by the Stamford Hill forum – Springfield, New River, Lordship, Cazenove – different to others in the borough? (Complicating the picture slightly, the rival North Hackney Neighbourhood Forum proposal covers Brownswood as well as these four wards).
My recent story for the Hackney Citizen gave details of how Hackney Council had unwittingly made a number of residents’ personal data available on their website. The data breach affected more than 30 people who had contacted the council recently about licensing decisions, with details published including names, home addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses.
Space limitations meant my article couldn’t list all of the licensing decisions affected, so below I’ve published the full list, together with some details of the personal data found in each case:
New Premises Licence – Unit A, Gaumont Tower, Dalston Square, E8
Sub-committee meeting: 3 January 2013
Personal details published included the mobile phone numbers of three residents who had expressed views on the licence application
A number of Hackney residents have had their personal details – including email addresses and mobile phone numbers in some cases – inadvertently published on the council’s website, as I reveal in a story for the Hackney Citizen:
Papers published on Hackney Council’s website have inadvertently revealed the personal data of a number of residents, an investigation by the Hackney Citizen has found.
Among the personal details discovered were the names, addresses, email addresses and mobile phone numbers of more than thirty residents who had been in touch with the council recently about licensing decisions.
The data featured in documents which had been partially redacted, but redaction had not always been done correctly, allowing personal details to be accessed by anyone who viewed the papers.