Private schools set new exams record
SCOTLAND'S independent schools achieved record results at Higher in the past year, with half of all pupils achieving an A-grade, new statistics have revealed.
The new data also found that 91 per cent of pupils in the private sector passed their Highers at A-C grade, a rise of 1 per cent on the previous year.
George Heriot's School in Edinburgh topped the league table with 95.6 per cent of candidates passing their Highers. Hutchesons' Grammar in Glasgow came top for the percentage of pupils gaining an A-grade at Higher, at 61.9 per cent.
Although a direct comparison cannot be made between state and private sectors because of the way figures are collated, the results yet again demonstrate the significant gap in attainment between Scotland's state and independent schools.
Half of independent school pupils sitting Highers achieved an A-grade, up 1 per cent from 49 per cent, according to the statistics from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS).
The overall pass rate, published by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) for all schools in Scotland at Higher, was 74.2 per cent.
Eric Wilkinson, professor of education at Glasgow University, said the disparity was not unexpected. He said: "I'm not surprised that the independent sector is delivering higher exam results, because in a sense they deliver a better educational environment.
"Also they do better because parents are more supportive of their children's education.
"The question to ask is what happens after exams. Should universities acknowledge the fact that children from independent schools achieve better results and compensate for that?"
The latest results show the proportion gaining an A at Advanced Higher also rose by a percentage point to 39 per cent, reflecting the growing prestige of the qualification.
However, the number passing Advanced Higher at A-C dropped by 1 per cent to 87 per cent.
Alistair Hector, the headmaster of George Heriot's, said the results were the school's best ever at S5 Higher, and he said the pupils deserved special congratulations.
The school, which is celebrating is 350th anniversary, also did well at Advanced Higher with 89.4 per cent passing at grade A-C.
He said: "To have almost 60 per cent A-grades is magnificent, but the Bs and Cs also include many personal bests for individual pupils, and they are just as praiseworthy."
He attributed the performance to the "outstanding professionalism" of teachers and the enthusiasm, hard work and dedication of the pupils.
St Mary's Music School in Edinburgh had a higher proportion of A-C grades, but it is regarded as a specialist school. It had just eight candidates this year, with 95.7 per cent passing with 60.9 per cent gaining an A-grade.
Hutchesons' Grammar came top in Scotland for the percentage of pupils gaining an A-grade at Higher at 61.9 per cent. Dr Ken Greig, the rector, said the results were down to the hard work of pupils, and he added that the whole school community was very proud.
He said: "Academic success is really important to Hutchesons', as historically we have always been at or near the top.
"I feel it is vital that schools keep aiming higher and higher, and we are very lucky to have pupils here who are intelligent and want to succeed," said Dr Greig. "I also have a very strong team of teachers, who are extremely good at teaching bright children – which isn't as easy as you might think."
The High School of Glasgow was among the top-performing schools in the city, with 92.3 per cent passing their Highers and 77 per cent achieving five or more.
Rector Colin Mair said: "It was very pleasing that so many of our pupils met or exceeded their individual targets.
"I congratulate our pupils and their teachers on gaining such positive overall results again – and, of course, our parents whose support we acknowledge also."
At Advanced Higher, St George's School for Girls in Edinburgh was among the top-performing schools, with 96.4 per cent of pupils passing.
Headteacher Helen Mackie, said: "We are just thrilled with the result. We think it is due to the diversity of choice and flexibility to find individual pathways which we offer pupils."
A-level schools also performed strongly, with many achieving a 100 per cent pass rate, mostly those with small numbers of pupils taking the qualification.
Hutchesons' Grammar had the most pupils taking A-levels, with 40.6 achieving an A-grade.
At the top of our A-level table was George Heriot's, which saw 60 per cent of its ten pupils who sat A-levels achieving an A-grade. George Watson's in Edinburgh saw 58.3 per cent gain an A, while the Edinburgh Academy saw 44.9 per cent of its pupils achieving the grade.
Traditional A-level schools, such as Fettes, also did well, with 99.6 per cent passing and 39.5 per cent achieving an A.
A total of 44 Fettes pupils opted to take the two-year International Baccalaureate.
Judith Sischy, director of SCIS, said: "The independent sector has started the school year in good heart, boosted by consistently strong exam results, which are a testament to the commitment and hard work of pupils and teachers.
The results underline the benefits of paying for private education after a summer in which the sector had been bracing itself for recession-hit parents withdrawing from fee-paying schools.
However, so far those withdrawals do not appear to be materialising.
Several schools are reporting full rolls – and some are even seeing a rise in pupils numbers.
George Heriot's has reported strong competition for places and a strong roll this year.
Marco Longmore, head of the Edinburgh Academy, described rolls as buoyant and said several years of entry, including primary two, primary six and S3, had a waiting list.
He said: "2009-10 shows a 2.5 per cent increase over 2008-9 at the junior school and a corresponding 4 per cent rise in pupil numbers at the senior school."
"Some families are under financial pressure, but this is the time of the year when these discussions are sometimes held in normal circumstances."
FEES per term (day pupils):
Albyn School for Girls: 3,580
Beaconhurst School: 2,902
Craigholme School for Girls: 2,878
Dollar Academy: 3,030
High School of Dundee: 3,047
Edinburgh Academy: 3,360
Fernhill School: 2,740
Fettes College: 5,946
George Heriot's School 2,937
George Watson's College: 2,952
Glasgow Academy: 2,766
High School of Glasgow: 2,961
Glenalmond College: 5,640
Hamilton College: 2,410
Hutchesons' Grammar School: 2,878
Kelvinside Academy: 3,098
Lomond School: 2,805
Loretto School: 5,540
Mary Erskine: 2,830
Queen Victoria School: (paid by MOD)
Robert Gordon's: 2,983
St Aloysius College: 2,670
St Columba's: 2,914
St George's School for Girls: 3,370
St Leonards, St Andrews: 3,269
St Margaret's School, Aberdeen: 3,023
St Margaret's School, Edinburgh: 3,179
St Mary's Music School: n/a
Stewart's Melville: 2,830
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