Are independent schools really in decline? The facts suggest otherwise

Independent School Magazine, February 2016, Lord Lucas, Old Etonian and one of the hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords after the passing of the House of Lords Act 1999, has been widely quoted as saying independent schools are ‘in decline’. HMC Chair Chris King, Headmaster of Leicester Grammar School is quoted.

Chris King, Chairman of HMC and Headmaster of Leicester Grammar School said: “It is surprising to read Lord Lucas’s views given numbers of pupils are at record levels in independent schools.”

Parents may be concerned about some of the recent coverage which may have included misleading or misinformed opinion. This aide memoire - compiled by the ISC - will prove useful to heads and others who prefer to base their responses on facts...

More about exam results...

Chris King, Chair of HMC and Headmaster of Leicester Grammar School said:

“The current assertions that state schools have higher exam results than independent schools are based on a confused picture and do not compare like with like.

The best state schools are getting better but these are a relatively small number of predominantly grammar and free schools. When we look at the overall picture it tells us something very different, with hundreds of failing schools and areas of the UK where it is difficult to find a good school to send your child.

Parents and pupils deserve consistency and leading independent schools produce reliably outstanding results on a far bigger scale than the relatively small number of free schools.

This, alongside a holistic education, is why pupil numbers are at a record level and HMC schools are thriving.

Specifically, the New Schools Network findings rely on just 877 A-level candidates in free schools, compared to the 52,000 in independent schools who, across the board, achieve outstanding university entrance results each year. [52,000 is the upper sixth ISC population – i.e. includes c.2,000-3,000 who instead do IB or Pre-U]

More than half of all HMC sixth formers achieve straight As and A*s in their exams each year and this is what parents are looking for, alongside brilliant cocurricular and pastoral care.

Also, HMC schools deserve credit for helping achieve the great free school results. A third of all free school A-level candidates come from two schools, the London Academy of Excellence and the Westminster Harris Sixth Form. Both were founded by schools in HMC.

The 280 or so A-level candidates at these two free-schools have achieved superb results and their success reflects a significant contribution by the HMC community to raising aspiration and achievement in these new state schools.

HMC heads are always delighted to see standards in state school rising; this is not the Football League and everyone can win”.

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