Private school pupils get nearly five times as many top GCSE grades

Private school pupils get nearly five times as many top grades in new GCSEs after developing ‘winning formula’

  • Private school pupils are four times more likely to get top GCSE grades
  • Research shows more than 20 per cent of paid-for pupils achieved top marks
  • GCSEs in England have been toughened up and a 9-1 grading system has begun

One in five GCSE entries from private school pupils scored the highest grade this summer – more than four times the national figure, data shows.

The Independent Schools Council said 20.5 per cent of entries from fee-paying schools were awarded a 9 – the new top grade.

In comparison, only 4.3 per cent of all entries – state and private schools – achieved a 9. Barnaby Lenon, the ISC’s chairman, said: ‘The results demonstrate the quality of teaching and ambition in our schools and prove the vital contribution the sector makes to the British education system.’

The figures, collected from 549 UK independent schools on 37,913 candidates, show 62.6 per cent of entries scored at least a 7 (equivalent to an A under the old system). This compares to 20.5 per cent at state schools. Some 87.7 per cent of independent school candidates gained at least one 7-9 grade (A-A*), while 73.7 per cent achieved at least one 8-9 grade (A*).

Pupils at private schools are more likely to achieve top grades when taking GCSE exams new research has shown

Ed Elliott, headteacher at The Perse School, a fee-paying school in Cambridge, said: ‘There is no single ingredient for a grade 9, but historically independent schools have developed a winning formula that stretches all pupils and allows the brightest to achieve the best.

‘This includes highly-qualified staff teaching in ways that maximise each child’s achievement, extra-curricular and character education, a culture of high aspirations and positive peer groups in which it is cool to work hard and succeed.’

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Under the biggest shake-up of exams in a generation, GCSEs in England have been toughened up and a new 9-1 grading system has been introduced, replacing A*-G grades. Grade 7 is equivalent to an A, while a 4 is equivalent to a C.

The vast majority of entries in England this year were for the new-style GCSEs, while entries in Wales and Northern Ireland were graded A*-G as they have different education systems.

Twenty per cent of private school pupils achieved the top mark in examinations this year – way above the national average combined with state schools 

However, Nick Gibb, the Minister for School Standards, said: ‘Our reforms since 2010 are leading to higher standards in our schools. We are determined that all state schools will deliver the quality of education common in the best independent schools.’


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