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Education News

Boys at independent schools outshine the girls


Boys cornered the market when it came to achieving three A* grades at A-level, the results of Britain’s independent schools show today.

They show that 6.4 per cent of the boys entered for thee exam achieved three A*’s - compared to just 5.3 per cent of all girls.

However, when it came to securing just one A* grade pass, the girls were ahead of the boys.

Education experts predicted the results could show a similar gender divide as that which emerged in the national results last week - where boys were more likely to opt for maths and science subjects while girls chose English and creative subjects.

Professor Alan Smithers, head of the Centre for Education and Employment at Buckingham University, said: “I think it is down to the subjects that the boys pick.

“Boys’ combinations of three subjects are likely to include a few more in maths, further maths and physics - and these are subjects where A* grades are more likely to be awarded.

“Girls are more likely to go for English and the humanities - where fewer are awarded - but may be brilliant in one area, accounting for their lead in those who got one A* grade.”

The results showed that the percentage of pupils awarded A* grades was pegged for the first time at 18 per cent - at a time when nationally the figure fell by 0.3 per cent.  The Independent Schools Council, which published the results, added that 51.3 per cent of all entries obtained at least an A grade - compared to 51.4 per cent last year.

Barnaby Lenon (correct), chairman of the ISC, said:  “It is remarkable that the per cent at independent schools gaining the top grade has remained unchanged despite it having gone down nationally.”

He added that “a high proportion” of independent schools’ A-level results had been achieved in “hard subjects” - maths, physics, chemistry, biology and ancient and modern languages.

“Many top university departments offering these subjects are dependent on independent school pupils for the quality of applicants they seek,” he said.

The figures also showed a growing number of candidates were opting to take the Extended Project Qualification - which includes a 5,000 word extended essay developing pupils’ creative thinking skills - a trend mirrored mirrored throughout the school sector.

Top school was Wycombe Abbey, a private girls’ boarding school in Buckinghamshire, where the average A-level point score of 508 - the equivalent of more than four A grade passes.  Its headmistress, Rhiannon Wilkinson, said that her girls worked on the principle that “ambition is not a dirty concept”.

In all, there were six girls’ schools, three mixed schools and just one boys’ school in the top ten for A-level passes - leaving an overall picture showing that, while boys may be more mercurial in gaining A* grades, girls were more methodical in lining up their qualifications.

Meanwhile, figures released by UCAS, the universities and colleges admissions service, showed nearly 450,000 candidates had snapped up university places since A-level results were published eight days ago, A further 140,000 950 are still seeking places through the clearing system.