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Thursday, 29 June, 2000, 12:21 GMT 13:21 UK
Independent schools claim top grades
Public school
Private schools gain over 30% of top grades at A level
Independent school pupils are gaining a disproportionately high number of the top A-level grades - which accounts for their success in gaining the most sought after university places, says an independent schools' association.

As the argument about Úlitism in education rumbles on, the Independent Schools Council says that 30% of all A grades at A-level are achieved by private school pupils.

And the council says that this academic success should be taken into account in the debate over whether there are too many private school pupils taking places at the most prestigious universities.

Rather than considering the small percentage of private pupils in the total school population, estimated at 7% in England, the council says that critics should look at the much larger percentages of private school pupils with the best grades.

According to the Independent Schools Council, which was giving evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee, in subjects such as physics, chemistry and maths over 40% of A grades last year were gained by pupils in private schools.

In economics, private school pupils took 47% of A grades and in French they gained 51%.

Laura Spence

When so many high grades are being achieved, the council argues that independent school pupils are not over-represented on courses with large numbers of applicants.

"So far from independent schools taking an unfair proportion of places at the best universities, the evidence suggests that they are making a disproportionately large contribution to ensuring that the nation has a new generation of scientists, mathematicians and linguists," said the council's representatives, Philip Evans and Sue Fishburn.

Last month, the case of Laura Spence, a state school pupil rejected by Oxford University and subsequently given a scholarship to Harvard, drew attention to the numbers of former private school pupils in Oxbridge colleges.

Oxford University still draws a larger number of its students from private schools than state schools.

In a debate that drew in the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Education Secretary, the leading universities were attacked for accepting such an unrepresentatively large number of former private school pupils.

See also:

25 May 00 | Education
Chancellor attacks Oxford admissions
26 May 00 | Education
Call for university quotas
19 Jun 00 | Education
University places inquiry begins
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