Independent sector out-performed by top grammar school

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The Independent Online

A state school has recorded the best A-level results in the country. Colyton Grammar School in Devon will be ranked as the top-performing school in the government's overall performance tables when they are published this autumn, having achieved the equivalent of more than four A-grades for every pupil.

A state school has recorded the best A-level results in the country. Colyton Grammar School in Devon will be ranked as the top-performing school in the government's overall performance tables when they are published this autumn, having achieved the equivalent of more than four A-grades for every pupil.

The school, which was founded in the reign of Henry VIII, beat the top-ranked independent school, the all-girls, Wycombe Abbey, which charges up to £20,100 a year.

Barry Sindall, the head teacher, welcomed the results but said it was impossible to judge a school on the basis of exam results alone. "I am pleased in the sense that to be up there in the top group of schools means that we have a lot of students who will have achieved the grades they wanted and met their aspirations," he said. "That is definitely something to be proud of."

Although it is a popular grammar school, Colyton takes a wider spread of abilities than many of the 164 remaining grammars. About 40 per cent of its intake are of just-above- average ability, while a few pupils are of less than average ability in some areas.

The only grammar school for 50 miles, Colyton takes boys and girls from a wide area of east Devon, west Dorset and parts of Somerset. Last year it was ranked as the best mixed school in the country - state or independent. This year it went one better.

Colyton's policy of encouraging breadth of study contributed to its high score. All sixth formers take at least four A-levels, including general studies, as well as an AS-level in critical thinking.

Westminster, which charges £16,488 a year for sixth-form day pupils, will rank 8th and Winchester College, which charges £21,510 for boarders, , 13th. Eton College will be 30th.

All A-level results were published last week and they showed a record performance by state schools, but the independent sector releases its school-by-school results a week later. The rankings will officially confirmed in the autumn rankings, which judge schools according to their average point school per pupil (including general studies), using the points tariff of the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Three other state grammars - Colchester County High School for Girls, Colchester Boys' Grammar School and Pate's Grammar School - will also be ranked among the top ten schools, having achieved the equivalent of more than four A-grades per pupil. This year's top comprehensive, Coopers' Company and Coburn School in Havering, will rank 121st, ahead of leading private schools such as the £10,000-a-year City of London school.

The Independent Schools Council said the results showed a "near-perfect" pass rate: 99.2 per cent compared to a national average of 95.9. The gap was more pronounced for the top grades, with 44.3 per cent of independent school entries winning As; the national average was 22.1. More than seven out of ten entries from private schools were graded A or B; the national average was 45.1 per cent.

Some schools that offer the International Baccalaureate are unhappy with the ISC rankings. Ucas has not yet agreed a points tariff for the IB so the schools argue that their achievements are not being fully recognised.

GCSE success for Josie Russell

Josie Russell, who suffered head injuries in a hammer attack that killed her mother and sister in 1996, achieved eight GCSE passes. Josie, left,17, a pupil at Dyffryn Nantlle school near Caernarfon, north Wales - where she and her father, Shaun, moved after the attack, said of her results: "These are all right." Her head teacher, Dewi Jones, said they were "a remarkable achievement".

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