Top comprehensive schools beat majority of selective grammars

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The Independent Online

Boys finally scored a victory in the battle of the sexes when this year's school-by-school A-level results became known.

A table of results compiled by The Independent put Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex - traditionally an all-male grammar - at the top. The 118 students who sat A-levels this year achieved an average point score of 510 per pupil - the equivalent of just over four A grades.

Thirty-two pupils at the school - more than a quarter who took A-levels - achieved five A grades in what is thought to be a record achievement for any state school.

The school does admit girls in the sixth form - a practice it first started a few years ago - but there are only 20. Ken Jenkinson, the headteacher, said the girls' results were "in line" with those of the boys. The school had not secured its position on the back of the girls' performance, he said.

Colchester Royal Grammar School achieved its top ranking despite national results showing that girls are in the lead over boys in every subject except modern foreign languages and religious education. This year's results show that the gap had grown by 0.3 percentage points - bringing it to a 2.9 percentage-point lead.

Mr Jenkinson said yesterday from Colchester: "We already regarded this as a strong year group, but it is only on results day that you know they have got the grades. We're delighted with the results."

He said that there was a trend towards taking more A-levels as a result of increased demands from universities for higher qualifications.

Of the top 10 performing state schools, four were all- female, three were all-male and three were mixed.

Meanwhile, today's table also shows that the country's best-performing comprehensive schools have again outshone most of the selective grammar schools.

The top comprehensive school for the second year running was Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, which achieved a point score of 383.5 per pupil - the equivalent of just over three A-grade passes. The achievement would have put it 50th on a list of all state schools - beating more than 100 grammar schools.

The school, which dates back to 1585, prides itself on providing a traditional education. Roger Wilkes, its headmaster, said he preferred to use that title rather than "headteacher". As part of its approach, it retained the title "grammar" when it became comprehensive about 30 years ago, Dr Wilkes said.

In all, 14 of the country's comprehensive schools would have made a combined top 100 of all the nation's state schools - thus beating almost 50 per cent of grammar schools, which have the advantage of selecting pupils when they start at the age of 11.

Doug McAvoy, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "This is yet more evidence that our comprehensive schools provide high-quality education for all of our children."

He added: "Comprehensive schools don't pick and choose between their pupils. They work with pupils to try and ensure they get the best out of them, and their success is growing year on year."

The top performing sixth-form college was Greenhead College in Huddersfield, which had a score of 397 points per pupil - the equivalent of three A grades and a D grade.

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