Almost half of all independent school A-level entries received either an A* or an A in 2016, new figures from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) reveal.
A total of 48.7 per cent of exam entries from schools surveyed by the organisation were awarded the top two grades, which is nearly double the national average figure of 25.8 per cent.
However, the figures were down on last year, when 49.4 per cent of private school entries were awarded the top two grades.
The percentage of students achieving at least ABB – the combination of results used to define “high performers” by top UK universities – was 55.5 per cent.
The ISC, which collected data from 495 independent schools, also revealed that one in 15 students gained three A* grades, the equivalent of around one student per sixth-form class.
The figures also reveal a significant increase in the number of students opting for BTEC vocational qualifications, which rose 14 per cent on last year to 792.
There was also a 19 per cent increase in pupils taking the Pre-U exam, an A-level equivalent designed to prepare pupils for university education. In total 1,801 took the Pre-U at ISC schools surveyed in 2016, compared with 1,516 in 2015.
‘Embracing vocational qualifications’
The increasing popularity of BTEC qualifications comes after Magnus Bashaarat, head of Milton Abbey School in Dorset, said in February that independent schools should “embrace” vocational qualifications despite them having become become “victims of intellectual and class snobbery”.
Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the ISC, said: “A concerted effort to halt grade inflation in recent years has seen the top grades both nationally and in independent schools level off and fall slightly, so it is encouraging to see the headline A* and A figure remain solid.
“Of particular note is the increase in students achieving ABB grades, which will see many of them moving on to the university of his or her choice, a high number to the top institutions.
“Importantly, the actual grades achieved remain impressively high. ISC schools focus strongly on the’facilitating’ subjects which are much prized by top universities. In 2015 our schools had record levels of entry to Russell Group universities and we expect this trend to continue.”
Julie Robinson, ISC’s general secretary, said: “The annual exam results each August remind us all that the academic side of school life is a top priority and that the grades achieved help pave a foundation for much that is to come for many young people.
“On top of all other aspects of independent school life, visible recently with the sporting successes of our alumni in the Olympics, these results show there is great strength and continued value in independent education.”
A-level grades in schools belonging to the Independent Schools Council:
|Cumulative entry % by grade 2016|