Independent school pupils score nearly 30% of all A* grades in the UK

Independent school pupils are punching far above their weight in achieving the very top grades at A-level.

New analysis based on figures released from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) shows that while independent school pupils form 13.6% of all entries at A-level, they achieve 29.5% of all A* grades.

Of the A-level entries made by pupils in independent schools, nearly half (48.2%) achieve an A* or A grade.

Of A-level entries made in other exam centres, 22.5% achieve an A* or A grade.

The performance of independent school pupils is particularly strong in Sciences, Maths  and Modern Foreign Languages, where they score high proportions of the top A* grade, compared to the percentage of pupils taking these exams.  These include the key subjects that are deemed strategically important but vulnerable (SIV), that are so vital to our economy.

For example in Physics, independent schools supply  18.3% of all candidates for Physics A-level, but because of the strength of their performance, pupils from independent schools account for 34.0% of the A* grades awarded in Physics. They account for 28.5% of all entries in Physics that achieve an A grade or higher.

In Biology,  independent schools supply  14.1% of all candidates for  Biology A-level, but because of the strength of their performance, pupils from independent schools account for 28.7% of the A* grades. They account for 24.1% of all entries in Biology that achieve an A grade or higher.

And  in Chemistry, independent schools supply 16.6% of all candidates for Chemistry A-level, but account for 31.7% of A* grades awarded in Chemistry. They account for 26.6% of all entries in Chemistry that achieve an A grade or higher.

In Maths, independent schools supply  17.2% of all candidates for Maths A-level, but account for 29.5% of A* grades awarded in Maths. They account for 25.3% of all entries in Maths that achieve an A grade or higher.

And in Further Maths, independent schools supply 26.1% of all candidates for Further Maths A-level, but account for 37.3% of A* grades awarded in Further Maths. They account for 32.1% of all entries in Further Maths that achieve an A grade or higher.

It is the same story in Modern Foreign Languages, which independent schools are so successful at supporting.

In  German,  independent schools supply 25.2% of all candidates for German A-level, but because of the strength of their performance, pupils from independent schools account for 42.5% of the A* grades. They account for 36.9% of all entries in German that achieve an A grade or higher.

Likewise in Spanish,  independent schools supply 25.7% of all candidates for  Spanish  A-level, but because of the strength of their performance, pupils from independent schools account for 41.0% of the A* grades awarded. They account for 36.6% of all entries in Spanish that achieve an A grade or higher.

In French,  independent schools supply 25.0% of all candidates for French  A-level, but because of the strength of their performance, pupils from independent schools account for 40.1% of the A* grades awarded. They account for 35.9% of all entries in French that achieve an A grade or higher.

This higher academic attainment of pupils at independent schools contributes an estimated £1.3 billion per year to the UK’s GDP, once these pupils enter the job market.[1] There is a clear link between educational attainment and economic growth and independent schools provide a valuable support for the STEM and SIV subjects which the Higher Education Funding Council for England  (HEFCE) deem to be vital to the UK’s competitiveness  and growth.

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman of the independent Schools Council, said:

“We are delighted that these newly released figures demonstrate the continuing success of pupils in independent schools at achieving the top grades.

“Independent schools value traditional subjects, understand their importance and teach them well. It is no surprise that a high proportion of independent school pupils’ A-levels were achieved in the traditional subjects such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, ancient and modern languages.  Many top university departments offering these subjects are dependent on independent school pupils for the quality of applicants they seek.

“Independent  schools  offer a rigorous and thorough academic  education, based on an expectation of high standards, exceptional levels of  teaching and support and an encouragement of pupils’ hard work and dedication.”

Professor Sir Michael Sterling, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham and former Chairman of the Russell Group, said:

“It has long been the case that the independent schools sector delivers proportionately more students with better STEM related A-levels than the state sector: without these well qualified applicants many university STEM courses would face serious recruitment difficulties.”

“Independent  schools  offer a rigorous and thorough academic  education, based on an expectation of high standards, exceptional levels of  teaching and support and an encouragement of pupils’ hard work and dedication. ISC includes a wide range of schools, both selective and non-selective, but all provide young people with a bespoke education.”

Ends

Notes to editors:

Figures are based on A-level results from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) for 2014 and cover all schools and further education colleges in the UK. Independent schools in this data includes both ISC and non ISC independent schools.

About ISC schools

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together eight associations of independent schools, their heads, bursars and governors. Through our member associations we represent over 1,200 independent schools in the UK and overseas.

These schools are ranked among the best in the world and educate more than half a million children each year. ISC schools in Britain contribute £9.5 billion to the economy, slightly larger than the City of Liverpool or the BBC. ISC schools generate £3.6 billion in tax and support 227,200 people in employment.

Our eight member associations are Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, Girls’ Schools Association, the Independent Association of Prep Schools, the Independent Schools Association, the Society of Heads, the Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools, the Independent Schools’ Bursars Association and the Council of British International Schools. For more information please visit the ISC website: www.isc.co.uk

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[1] The impact of independent schools on the British economy. A report prepared for the Independent Schools Council by Oxford Economics. April 2014