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Private fees go further in the west

The west seems to be best when it comes to the results of independent school pupils in Standard grade and Higher examinations.

Figures released by the Independent Schools Information Service reveal that six of the top 11 schools at Standard grade, with pupils gaining 90 per cent or more at Credit level, were from the west of Scotland. Hutchesons' Grammar and the High School of Glasgow each recorded a remarkable 99 per cent, while entering all fourth-year pupils for the exam.

The Higher results show both schools coming out on top. Sixty-three per cent of Hutchesons' fifth-year presentations and 55 per cent of those at the High School of Glasgow gained an A. The national average was 35 per cent, which maintains the standard of previous years.

Technically, Loretto School in Musselburgh and Fettes College in Edinburgh scored more impressively, with 100 per cent and 85 per cent respectively of Higher presentations achieving an A band. But the Glasgow schools allowed all fifth-year pupils to sit Highers. Loretto entered only one pupil out of 73 in the year group and Fettes 39 out of 87. The remainder took Highers or A-level in sixth year.

David Ward, headteacher of Hutchesons' Grammar, said that the school sets a faster pace in the first year although pupils are grouped in classes of mixed ability, moving into setting by subject ability in second year. Otherwise the keys to success are effective teaching, high expectations, and good motivation among pupils.

Other west of Scotland schools which excelled were Craigholme in Glasgow, Fernhill in Glasgow, St Columba's in Kilmacolm and Wellington in Ayr. Each gained 90 per cent or more of Credit awards at Standard grade along with Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh, Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen, St George's School for Girls, Edinburgh, St Margaret's School for Girls, Aberdeen, and St Mary's Music School, Edinburgh.

Schools which also did well at Higher were St George's in Edinburgh and St Leonards in St Andrews, where 48 per cent of Highers were A passes, helping to maintain the tradition of superior academic results among private girls' schools.

Judith Sischy, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said: "The results reflect consistency, high levels of achievement and positive outcomes for more than 6,500 pupils of differing abilities."

Mrs Sischy hoped the Higher Still reforms would fulfil the Howie committee's ambition to move beyond the "examination-dominated" upper secondary curriculum. "Many pupils currently have to suffer examinitis to do well," Mrs Sischy remarked.

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