Penalty for independent sector

6th December 1996 at 00:00
If Geraldine Hackett were a sports writer, would she, I wonder, have reported Everton's recent 7-1 win over Southampton by concentrating on the defensive lapse which led to Southampton's goal? I only ask, because that was the tenor of her front-page story on the exam results of independent schools with assisted places (TES, November 29).

The fact that 336 of the 355 schools in question (that is, 95 per cent) exceeded not just the national average GCSE score but the - much higher - average for independent schools was turned on its head to highlight the results of three of the 19 which did not.

It is, in any case, not the overall results from the schools that should be the centre of public interest, but those of the pupils on whom public money is spent.

Provisional figures from the Department for Education and Employment show that assisted-place pupils in 1996 had a 97 per cent A*-C pass rate at GCSE, actually outscoring their full-fee-paying contemporaries. And the London School of Economics study, published earlier this year, demonstrated that assisted-place holders also outscore state school contemporaries of similar ability atA-level.

Inadvertently, your reporter identified both the reason for the relatively lower showing of some schools and the major objection independent schools have to the DFEE's method of publishing exam results.

The recognition of 15-year-olds' results only, rather than those of all pupils in Year 11, artificially depresses the actual GCSE score of many independent schools, especially those with boarders and with overseas pupils.


Deputy director

Independent Schools Information Service

56 Buckingham Gate

London SW1

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today