Eton failing exam test

WINCHESTER COLLEGE beat off its old rivals, St Paul's School for boys in London and Westminster, to top the independent schools league table. Eton, placed fourth last year, slipped to eighteenth.

Winchester (boarding fees pounds 15,345) scored 34.1 points per candidate, the equivalent of more than three As for every pupil entered. Eton (fees pounds 13,296) scored 28.4, equivalent to two As and a B. The leading independent girls' school is the North London Collegiate School, which comes sixth.

Figures for the table are released by the Independent Schools Information Service and compiled by the Monckton Combe computing service. In our table inside, schools are ranked by the average number of points per candidate. General studies is excluded. Under the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service scoring system for A-level, an A gains 10 points and E scores 2.

James Sabben-Clare, Winchester's head, said A-levels were getting easier: "Fourteen years ago, when I came here, we were getting 43 per cent of A grades. Now we are getting 73 per cent."

George Turnbull, of the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, said it was "absolute nonsense" to suggest A-levels were getting easier. "The whole culture ... has changed because of league tables. Independent schools are competing with state schools much more than in the past and that is raising standards."