By Patrick Sawer and Edward Malnick
7:30AM GMT 25 Jan 2015
Private school pupils are continuing to outshine their state sector counterparts by a wide margin when it comes to A-level results, new figures show.
Despite forming just 13.6 per cent of all A-level entries, pupils from fee-paying schools achieve nearly 30 per cent of all A* grades, raising questions over the education opportunities on offer to the vast majority of children.
A new analysis based on figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) also shows that nearly half (48.2 per cent) of private school pupils achieve an A* or A grade, while just 22.5 per cent of A-level entries made from other exam centres – usually schools – achieve an A* or A grade.
The figures show a disturbingly wide gap between the results achieved by independent and state school pupils.
Tracy Cook, of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), which carried out the study, said: “The surprise is how big the gap is between independent and state sector pupils’ results.
“It is indicative of the significant added value provided by independent schools, due to factors such as intensive, focused teaching and smaller class sizes.”
The study found that 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 with the percentage of pupils taking these exams.
These are key subjects that are deemed strategically important to our economic future, but which are less popular with pupils and attract fewer students.
The gulf between private and state sector results was particularly stark in the sciences. In physics A-level, independent schools supply 18.3 per cent of all candidates, yet because of the strength of their performance they account for 34.0 per cent of the A* grades awarded in the subject and make up 28.5 per cent of all entries in physics that achieve an A grade or higher.
In biology, independent schools supply just over 14 per cent of all candidates for
A-level, but account for 28.7 per cent of the A* grades. Private school pupils also account for 24.1 per cent of all entries in biology that achieve an A grade or higher.
And in chemistry, independent schools supply 16.6 per cent of all candidates for A-level, but account for more than 31 per cent of A* grades awarded. They account for 26.6 per cent of all entries in chemistry that achieve an A grade or higher.
Supporters of state education said the gap in performance was a reflection of the superior resources fee paying schools are able to draw on, rather than the abilities of their pupils. Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: “The OECD recognises that once socio-economic factors have been accounted for, private schools do not perform any better than state schools.
“The NUT has long argued for the advantages that the independent sector enjoys, such as smaller class sizes. It is a fact that state sector pupils outperform privately-educated pupils with the same A levels at university.”
According to a report by Oxford Economics consultancy group last year, the higher academic attainment of pupils at independent schools contributes an estimated £1.3 billion per year to the UK’s GDP, once those pupils enter the job market.
Prof Sir Michael Sterling, a former chairman of the Russell Group of leading universities, said: “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.”
This article has been taken from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11367877/Private-schools-achieve-greater-A-level-success.html