Responding to the publication of the 2018 PISA test results, HMC Chair and head of Guildford High School Fiona Boulton said:
“At a time when Britain is deciding its future place in the world, it is heartening to see that UK schools have climbed up the global rankings in reading and maths.
“Teachers and pupils everywhere deserve huge praise for the hard work this represents.
“There remains concern over science standards, however, especially given the fast-paced technological changes this generation faces.
"Independent schools play a crucial role in pushing up academic standards, not least in science, and it is imperative that we are able to continue to make the UK a place of excellence in education.
“Academic research* has shown that if independent schools alone were measured on PISA outcomes, they would outperform the best European nations and be level with leading countries such as Japan.
“Leading independent schools also work hard to improve standards for state school pupils, training specialist science teachers and providing much-needed resources.
"For example, Guildford High School recently ran sessions to help science teaching in primary schools as many do not have a science specialist.
“We know exam results are only part of a great education, and the OECD’s head of education Andreas Schleicher has also told the Parliamentary Education Select Committee that our schools are teaching 21st century skills such as character development.
“Independent schools are a British success story and harming them through punitive taxation or loss of independence will only harm the country and its international standing.
"At a time of growing global competition let’s work together to make sure every child gets the best possible education and goes into the world with confidence.”
*‘Academic Value Added’ Research Report 2016, by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University
The head of Bolton School Boys' Division Philip Britton, who was awarded an MBE in 2010 for services to physics and is Vice President (Education) of the Institute of Physics, said:
“Strong and confident teaching from those well trained and with passion for the subject is key to success in science, where often the subject can be seen by pupils as ‘too difficult’.
"Independent schools have been central to improving the quality of teaching in physics: several are hubs for the national Supporting Physics Teaching programme run by the Institute of Physics, aimed at upskilling non-specialist teachers of physics; they have been drivers of local Ogden Trust partnerships aimed at encouraging pupils to see the relevance of physics and they have been engaged in the national physics and maths School Centred Initial Teacher Training, leveraging the expertise and experience of independent school physics teachers in partnership with the state sector to train the next generation of teachers.”