Independent schools outshine state rivals: Twice as many top grades in A-levels awarded to private-sector students. Ngaio Crequer reports

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The Independent Online
INDEPENDENT schools are achieving A-level grades that are on average well above those in the state sector, according to figures published today by Isis, the

Independent Schools Information Service.

Of all independent school entries, 29.4 per cent achieved A grades, twice the proportion in the state sector. Westminster tops the league, followed by St Paul's, in Barnes, south-west London. Winchester, last year's leader, was fourth behind Eton.

According to Isis, the performance of the independent schools was due to the 'high quality of the teaching, particularly in the sixth form'.

'On top of good teaching, we have highly motivated children with lots of support from their parents.' But a spokesman also acknowledged that schools at the top of the list took 'the cream of the crop of pupils'.

The A and AS-level exams at independent schools improved by 3 per cent over last year. An analysis of the results of 31,050 candidates shows that the average Ucas points score per candidate was 20.31, compared with a 19.69 average for 1993 candidates, a 3.1 per cent improvement. From 1989 to 1993, the average points score per candidate was 18.59. Points are calculated on a sliding scale: 10 for an A-level at grade A, down to two for a grade E.

A total of 29.4 per cent of entries were awarded grade A, 22.6 grade B, 19.1 per cent grade C, 13.8 per cent grade D and 8.4 per cent grade E.

At the co-educational Sevenoaks School, in Kent, where many students take the International Baccalaureate, candidates have done particularly well. For the first time in 15 years of IB results, one candidate gained the maximum possible score of 45 points (one of only seven in the world) and two other candidates achieved 44 points.

The North London Collegiate was the top girls' school, scoring an average points grade of 28.3, finishing sixth overall.

Many independent schools are selective, and the high fees charged allow for a better staff-student ratio. Smaller classes, more intensive teaching, and in some cases superb sites and facilities for both teaching and extra-curricular activities give them an edge over state counterparts.

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