Private school children can get up to two grades higher in A-levels than state school peers, study finds
5th November 2019
Privately educated children can get up to two grades higher in their A-levels than their state school peers, a major study has found.
Once socio-economic background and academic attainment have been taken into account, students from fee-paying schools were still more likely to be offered places from elite universities, the research showed.
This is partly due to their choice of subjects and partly due to their higher results, according to academics from University College London’s Institute of Education who analysed the data and background of over 5,800 students born in 1990.
They found that students at independent schools were more likely to choose traditional subjects for A-levels - such as Maths, Further Maths, English Literature, Languages, History, Geography, Physics, Biology and Chemistry – which are generally favoured by top universities.
The research, published in the Oxford Review of Education, found that privately educated pupils on average did better in their A-level results by as many as two grades in the traditional subjects, which could be the difference between ABB and AAA.
“These are non-trivial ‘effects’ which, if interpreted as reflecting a causal impact from private schools, could be set against the high fees by parents who are considering whether to invest in private education for their child at sixth form,” the report said.
Prof Francis Green, the principal investigator on the research project, told The Daily Telegraph: “This is the first time anyone has tried to calculate it for people who have been to school in this century.
“Private schools cost an enormous sum of money. There are some who in the past said that it’s in effect a waste of money because if you’re bright you do well anyway. But our research conclusively demonstrates that there was an advantage of going to a private sixth form.”
He said it is not surprising that students at private schools on average get better grades given the amount of resources they have as well as smaller class sizes.
“Private schools are a different kettle of fish in the modern age. The amount of resources going into them are getting on for three times as much as they used to be,” Prof Green added.
The research also showed that students from similar socio-economic backgrounds and with the same A-level grades in the same subjects were just as likely to get into top universities, irrespective of which kind of school they went to.
Dr Morag Henderson, the lead author of the report, said the research “provides further evidence on the links between private schooling, subject choice and university progression”.
She said: “Overall, we have a picture of cumulative advantage from Britain's private education. This is consistent with the vastly superior resource gap at each stage. Those who are privately educated are then set to profit beyond school with better university access and improved labour market rewards."
Handcross Park has just been named as Prep School of the Year
At the prestigious Independent Schools of the Year Awards Handcross Park won prep school of the year 2019. Delighted Headmaster Richard Brown explained…
“To win the Best Prep School is a huge achievement. Handcross Park were shortlisted from a large number of prep schools and then made finalists (with 6 other prep schools) and there was a panel of around 10 judges that made the final decision.
I want to say a huge thank you to everyone at Handcross Park. This success is a reflection of all the brilliant work that happens at our school day in, day out. Every single pupil, member of staff and parent has made this possible, as well as the wider Brighton College family.”
See also: Best Schools Prep School League Table