M: But I was talking about pupils from state schools going to the so-called elite universities. That didn't go up during your time.
W: The number from the state schools who are going to leading universities has increased over the years. But there's still an issue about ensuring the pupils from our state schools apply to going to the universities. And if you look at the Oxford figures, for example, you see that the percentage of students applying to Oxford from the state schools is about one percent, whereas from the private schools it's over 4.5 percent, so that you know that's the problem. It's expectations in the state system that have been driven down by this government over the years.
M: But again you had the opportunity to do that as well. I mean to get more children from state schools into those leading universities and it didn't happen.
W: We have been getting more children from state schools into the leading universities and the universities have been working very hard at doing that. But I think there's going to be a real problem in the short term as a result of what the present government has been doing, because they have been giving a message that there are barriers there. And we've seen it today. There are reports already that Cambridge have been finding state school pupils ringing up and saying that they are not going to bother to apply now. That's the real damage the government has been doing. Far from opening opportunities, they are actually closing down opportunities.
M: Well, they'd argue with that of course. And what they would say is "one of the things we want to do is improve the standard of our schools". Now one of the ways they want to do it is to give the schools the opportunity to run themselves more completely than they are doing at the moment. To give schools more powers, exactly the same as you. You made a speech last night laying out the way you see the education system changing in this country. I see no difference here at all between you and them.
W: There's a very great deal of difference actually. The present government talks about freedom for schools. It talks about getting money into schools. But if you look in the detail of what they are proposing, the reality is very different. We genuinely want to make schools free and give them the freedom to have all of the money to spend on what is going on in their schools.
M: All of it?
W: Well, the government say in the future 85 pence in the pound will go to the schools. I want to make sure that every pound spent on schools is a pound spent in schools. I think schools should have the money and have the power to decide how to spend it because they know best what's in the interest of their pupils.