Girls' schools top independent table at GCSE

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Girls' schools dominate the top of the annual independent schools GCSE league table, published yesterday.

Girls' schools dominate the top of the annual independent schools GCSE league table, published yesterday.

St Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith, west London, tightened its grip at the top of the table, heading the rankings for the fifth successive year. More than 93 per cent of all the school's entries were awarded A or A* grades, slightly down on last year's figure.

The £7,782-a-year day school topped a league headed by five leading girls' schools. Boys' schools produced only two of the top 15 performing schools overall.

The highest-performing boys' school was St Paul's in Barnes, West London, where 88.4 per cent of entries were graded A or A*.

Figures published by the Independent Schools Information Service (Isis) yesterday showed that more than half of entries across 600 fee-paying schools produced an A or A*. One in five entries gained an A*. The overall figure for A and A* grades was 51.2 per cent, slightly up on last year, and well ahead of the 15.8 per cent figure for A and A* grades recorded nationally.

Alistair Cooke, general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, which represents nearly 600 private schools, said: "These results, following the success of ISC schools at A-level announced last week, confirm the high academic reputation which our member schools rightly enjoy."

The top-performing independent schools are all highly selective, which explains in part their annual examination success. Elizabeth Diggory, high mistress of St Paul's Girls' School, said the commitment of parents and the resources at her school's disposal also played a significant part.

She said: "We have very committed parents because nobody has to send their children to a school like this. Almost by definition they are a highly committed and supportive group of people.

"We are also regularly stretching students beyond the requirements of their GCSE courses. Taking them outside the syllabus gives them a better understanding of what they have to deliver.

"We also have many extra- curricular activities, which keep the students' minds working. We are privileged in that we can offer that. We have the staff and we have the time."