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School league tables: privately-educated pupils 'better prepared for top universities'

The results are likely to tighten private school pupils’ grip in places at leading universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and University College London which demand a string of top grades as a basic entry requirement.

It also appears to reinforce universities’ claims that the dominance of independently-educated students is a reflection of academic standards in schools – and not discrimination by admissions tutors.

The disclosure comes after universities were told to set tough targets to increase the proportion of pupils admitted from “under-represented groups” including poorly-performing state schools. Around half of members of the Russell Group set themselves a state school admissions target.

“Of course it’s right to ensure the right pupils get access to the right subjects and then on to the right university destinations, ” he said.

“Independent schools, not least because they are less subject to Government interference, have a greater chance of doing this, as the table makes very clear.

Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said: “We agree A-level choices really matter. Too few students realise that some subjects and subject combinations can keep open wider degree course options at leading universities.

“However, it would be wrong to use this simple indicator as a measure of the number of pupils in a school who are qualified to apply successfully to a Russell Group university."

Today’s performance tables show how many students get two As and a B at A-level in key subjects – maths and further maths, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and modern and classical languages. Data relates to more than 2, 500 schools teaching A-levels in England.

It follows the publication of research by the Russell Group showing that students taking academic disciplines are much more likely to win places.

But figures show that 600 – one-in-four – did not produce a single pupil with good A-level grades in these subjects. Just 60 were from the independent sector.

Three-quarters of the 200 leading schools were from the independent sector, including seven in the top 10.

Aside from St Paul’s Girls’ School and Magdalen College School, the other fee-paying schools in the top 10 were: Concord College in Shrewsbury, the in Cambridge, St Paul’s Boys’ School in west London, Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe, the in Hampton and St Swithun’s School in Winchester.

Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school in Barnet was the top performing state school with 65 per cent of pupils hitting the A-level target. Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex and the, north London, were also listed in the top 10.

Figures also show a drop in the overall A-level pass-rate nationally.

The percentage of students who achieved passes equivalent to at least two A-levels decreased from 94.1 to 93.6 per cent in 12 months. The proportion of teenagers with three or more A*/A passes was down from 13.1 to 12.8 per cent, it emerged.

Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, said: "The decline in results at A-level and the fact that many pupils do not get the top grades for university is worrying.

"With 10, 000 teachers having left the profession, and leading universities warning that the Government’s exam changes will jeopardise fair access to universities, David Cameron is putting social mobility is at risk."


Interesting facts:

Glenola Collegiate School is a girls school in Bangor, Northern Ireland. In 2002, it was ranked as the second best controlled school in Northern Ireland and twenty ninth in the whole UK according to The Sunday Times Parent Power. In 2003, the school was visited by...

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