Girls dominate private schools'A-level tables as Eton slips again

Private school A-level tables show Eton is slipping down the league
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Eton College, Alma Mater to 20 former prime ministers, has slipped further behind its independent school rivals, A-level league tables reveal today.

Eton College, Alma Mater to 20 former prime ministers, has slipped further behind its independent school rivals, A-level league tables reveal today.

Figures from the Independent Schools Information Service show the 560-year-old school, which charges £15,660 a year per pupil, in 31st place. Last year it came 27th, falling from 16th in the previous year.

Winchester College was the top-performing boys' independent school, but girls' schools scooped the top four places in the table led by St Paul's School for Girls, in London.

Eton, of which one schools' guide says "those whom it suits receive an education - and a leg-up in life - without equal", scores an average of 8.36 points per entry. Its score is matched by at least two state grammar schools - Queen Elizabeth's School in Barnet, London, and Tiffin Girls' School in Kingston upon Thames, London, which were featured in The Independent's survey of high-scoring state schools last week.

On another measure - the average points per candidate - the Eton's score improved slightly from 28.4 to 28.5, but results for independent schools have been increasing more rapidly overall.

John Lewis, the school's head, said yesterday: "It wasn't one of our vintage years but we had some outstanding results. Nearly a quarter achieved straight As. We had 262 candidates whereas the average in the independent sector is probably a bit over 60. If you look at the top 150 of our boys, the average points per entry and average points per candidate would be much closer to the schools at the top of the table. We probably have a much wider range of ability than those schools."

Eton, which has 1,289 pupils, is just behind Rugby but well ahead of Harrow, whose results put it in 73rd place.

At the end of a fortnight in which the media and politicians have been preoccupied by the gap between the academic achievement of boys and girls, the latter again showed their educational prowess.

St Paul's School for Girls, in Hammersmith, west London - a day school with 657 pupils and fees of £7,782 a year - is a whisker ahead of Withington Girls' School in Manchester. Eight out of the top 10 schools are for girls only, with just St Paul's School for Boys, in London, and Winchester College breaking the female monopoly.

Elizabeth Diggory, the head of St Paul's School for Girls, said: "Boys and girls work in different ways. Girls work consistently. Boys tend to leave it. It is a question of how good their judgement is as to whether they make it. The girls here are pretty focused on their work while they are in school but that doesn't mean that they don't meet boys or that they lead cloistered lives."

She added: "Girls in a mixed school have to be pretty tough about the insults boys throw at them if they work hard."

Ms Diggory said a striking range of extracurricular activities contributed to the school's academic success. "The quality of teaching also plays a huge part in achieving these results."

Yehudi Menuhin School, in Cobham, Surrey, had an even higher score than St Paul's, but has been left out because it entered only 11 candidates.

Overall, results of this summer's A-level exams at independent schools showed a marked improvement on last year. Analysis of the results of 31,921 candidates shows the average points score for each candidate was 22.56 compared with 22.18 last year. Average points per entry were up from 7.14 to 7.23. This year, 36 per cent of entries were awarded grade A, up 1.2 per cent on last year. The increase is four times the rise in A grades for all types of schools.

The statistics are compiled by the Monkton Combe Computing Centre. Schools have been ranked by The Independent.