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Home / Latest News / While A*s at GCSE fall in England, top Welsh private school enjoys a 9% surge

While A*s at GCSE fall in England, top Welsh private school enjoys a 9% surge

A handful of private schools in Wales achieved above-average grades in GCSE results, according to figures released today by the sector’s representative body.

Results revealed by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) revealed that four schools in South-East Wales posted average grades above the UK watermark – with Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls (HMSG) topping the Welsh league table.

Private school pupils across England and Wales scored four times as many top grades in their GCSEs and IGCSEs this summer as teenagers across the country, the figures show.

HMSG aberdashers’ matched its 2012 performance in A*-C level, posting a level just above 97%, while it saw an upsurge in the top grades of A* and A from 67.2% last year to 76% this year, meaning it was ranked top in Wales for the percentage of top grades.

Three independent schools in Cardiff also posted above-average grades – with Howell’s School, Llandaff, achieving the highest proportion achieving of A*-C grades in Wales at 98.94%, while also gaining 73.4% for A*-A.

Cathedral School and St John’s College – both Cardiff schools – posted grades above the UK average (68.9% and 61.9% for A*-A grades respectively, and 98.9% and 95.7% for A*-C).

St John’s College had already been crowned top-performing school in Wales for A-Level results last week for the last 13 years.

Cathedral also topped the amount number of GCSE points per candidate in Wales and was the top-performing co-educational school (mixed-sex) in Wales.

Headmaster of the Cathedral School, Stephen Morris, said: “We are delighted that Cathedral School pupils have topped the GCSE table in Wales for the amount of GCSE points per candidate, and topped the table in terms of mixed-sex cohort on every measure – 94% of grades at A*/A/B is outstanding, and not achieved at the expense of a rich musical and cultural life, competitive sport or busy social calendar, all of which complement these super results. Our sixth form begins this term and is off to the best possible start.”

Almost a third (32%) of all entries from students at fee-paying schools achieved an A* grade, according to the ISC data.

This has risen by one percentage point on last year.

The figures come the week after national results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland showed a drop in the proportion of all entries awarded the very top grade – with 8.2% scoring an A* this year compared to 8.3% in 2012.

These figures include GCSE and IGCSE (international GCSEs) results as many private schools now opt for the latter qualification. In total, IGCSEs now account for nearly a third (32%) of exam entries among privately educated 16-year-olds, up from 24.9% last year, while pupils are taking fewer GCSEs.

On average, each pupil achieved two A* grades and seven As in their results.

Westminster School in central London scored the best grades, coming top in a new league table of private schools’ GCSE and IGCSE results, based on the ISC’s data.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of education union ATL, which has the largest membership in the independent sector in Wales, said: “It’s interesting to see that independent schools bucked the downward trend in results this year to some extent. What is even more interesting is the variation between the schools themselves, which seems to show that private education is no guarantee of excellence in itself.

“The state sector is under heavy pressure to raise the standards in all schools to the level of the best. It would be in the best interests of the independent sector to do the same. Collaboration is as important as competition in all this.”

ISC chairman Barnaby Lenon said he was delighted with the results.

“It is remarkable that the proportion of entries awarded grade A* has risen, bucking the national trend where there has been a fall in the proportion attaining the top grade,” he said.

“Also noteworthy is that the typical ISC student achieves 2 A*s and 7As, providing the perfect springboard on which they can continue their education at A-Level this autumn.”

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