HMC response to Tom Richmond report: A comparative analysis of leading private schools and state schools

10 August 2017
Posted by Jeetesh Daji

In response to Tom Richmond's comparative analysis of of A level progress as reported in TES 11.08.17, Mike Buchanan, Chair of HMC and Head of Ashford School said:

“This report is highly selective and its conclusions dubious. It cuts its data in a partial way and therefore is out of kilter with other respected research.

“It forgets to mention that most independent school pupils do so well at GCSE that they have less far to leap to get top grades at A Level. It is a perverse theoretical universe in which pupils with top grades at both GCSE and A Level are seen as making little progress.

This report is highly selective and its conclusions dubious. It forgets to mention that most independent school pupils do so well at GCSE that they have less far to leap to get top grades at A Level. It is a perverse theoretical universe in which pupils with top grades at both GCSE and A Level are seen as making little progress.

Mike Buchanan, HMC Chair and Head of Ashford School

“The reality is that nearly 35% of pupils in ISC association schools achieve A* at GCSE compared with just 6.5% nationally. 62.1% get A/A* compared with 20.5% nationally. This report admits our A Level results are "staggering".

“The report bases its findings on around 3250 institutions of which only 18% are independent schools. In fact, those schools score a disproportionately high level of positive progress (30%) and a low negative score (10%).

Of the ‘top’ hundred positive scores over half are independent schools, whilst only ten of the ‘bottom’ hundred negative scores are independent schools. Again, they punch above their weight.

“Most importantly, the sample includes a large number of fantastically successful schools, both state and independent, by any other measure.

“Far from failing pupils, independent schools demonstrably offer excellent added value throughout a child’s entire school career. Recent research from Durham University demonstrated they add the equivalent to nearly two years’ worth of extra education by the age of 16 - findings ignored in this report.

“The outstanding results achieved by HMC schools help our pupils go on to the best universities and a fantastic array of careers. This is far more important to families than mathematical constructs based on biased data.

However, whilst results are important, we must not forget that independent schools are also proven to produce young people who are controlled, committed, confident and like a challenge, according to recent independent analysis. They also offer first class sport, arts and enrichment activities.

“Independent schools remain committed to assisting state school colleagues with teachers, resources and events, where it is helpful and wanted. We applaud the best state schools for the fantastic work they are doing in difficult circumstances and would like to see more emphasis on collaboration rather than conflict.”

ends