Enquiry Form

Daily News Roundup - Private schools outperform similar state schools on pupil progress

Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...  

Private schools outperform similar state schools on pupil progress

Private schools achieve “slightly higher” value added scores at A level than state schools whose pupils have similar expected results, new research has found.

The findings run counter to an analysis that last week suggested that pupils at top comprehensive schools make better progress than those at the highest-performing independent schools.

That research, by Tom Richmond, a former senior policy adviser at the Department for Education, was labelled “misleading” by independent schools. They said their pupils’ high GCSE performance limited the amount of progress they could demonstrate, even if they achieved top A-level scores.

Now, in a blog for Education Datalab, Dave Thomson, chief statistician at the Fischer Family Trust, has also calculated the progress made by A-level students at top state and independent schools.

However, his method takes into account a range of factors such as pupils' prior attainment, the subjects they study at A level, and whether or not the school is in London.

Mr Thomson selected the 141 state schools with the same range of "expected average point score" per A-level entry as the 10 top state schools used by Mr Richmond, and compared them with the 305 private schools with the same range of expected APS per entry.

He found that these independent schools had an A-level value added score of 0.15, while that of the state schools was 0.03.


See also:  ISC response to new report: 'A comparative analysis of leading private schools and state schools'

State school pupils have 'reduced chance' of winning Oxbridge places as they apply to oversubscribed courses

State-educated sixth-formers hoping to go on to the UK’s most prestigious institutions are more likely to apply for the most popular courses than those who attend fee-paying schools, according to figures obtained by the Press Association.

Privately educated pupils are more likely to apply for the least over-subscribed, earning them a better chance of being accepted for an interview.

Responding to the statistics, one charity said that privately educated pupils may be “gaming the system”, while private school leaders argued that they offer a wide range of subjects that are useful to many Oxbridge subjects.

The figures show that last year, almost a third of applications (30.7 per cent) from UK state school students were for the five most over-subscribed subjects at Cambridge, compared to 28.4 per cent of private school applications.

But Peter Hamilton, of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, which represents private school leaders, and head of Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School in Hertfordshire, said that the figures are explained by the ”range of sixth-form studies that different schools can offer and the breadth of high-level attainment that each school achieves“.

“In independent schools we are fortunate to be able to offer students an exceptionally wide choice at A-level and Pre-U (specialist subject exams offered by one of Cambridge University's exam boards), as well as the International Baccalaureate,“ he said.


See also: University Advice