"Excellence exists all across our country"
Mansfield Principal, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC's response to her profile by Peter Wilby, published in The Guardian 07/03/17.
In his kind profile, Peter Wilby referred to the success of Mansfield College Oxford on its outreach to state school pupils.
This year Mansfield made 91.4% of its offers to students from the state sector, the vast majority of them from non-selective schools. Twenty per cent are from Black or other ethnic minority backgrounds.
This does not happen by magic or positive discrimination. It is the result of sustained commitment over many years by my academic staff and has been a steady upwards trajectory over years. It involves visiting schools, connecting with teachers, fair interviews conducted to bring out the best in untutored applicants. It also means creating a welcoming, highly supportive environment.
Excellence exists all across our country. You just have to stop looking for it in the usual places and extend the right kind of invitation. What works is a cultural shift in deciding what excellence looks and sounds like.
Baroness Helena Kennedy, QC
Principal, Mansfield College, Oxford
House of Lords, London SW1