Figures published today by the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS) show that 56 per cent of all Highers sat were awarded the top mark, up from 53 per cent last year.
The results, which come after it emerged the cost of private education in Scotland had soared by 63 per cent in a decade, show pass rates and the proportion of entries awarded an A at Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher have all increased.
The figures once again raise the question of whether Scotland’s school exams are getting easier, after figures published on 7 August showed the Higher pass rate for all schools had risen to a record 76.9 per cent. Today’s figures show that when, the pass rate for private schools is taken separately, the figure stands at 93 per cent. That means the proportion of private school pupils achieving at least a C, as well as the proportion of those achieving an A, is now at the highest level since analysis of results began in 2007.
The High School of Glasgow achieved the highest proportion of A grades at Higher, with 69 per cent of the 516 exams sat by 102 pupils awarded the top mark.
Clifton Hall School, at Newbridge near Edinburgh, achieved the lowest proportion of A passes, with 5 per cent of the 40 exams sat at Higher in S5 awarded the top grade. However, only 11 S5 pupils sat Highers at the school, and the school’s headteacher said every pupil who had applied to university had got into the course and institution of their choice.
There are a number of private schools missing from today’s analysis, most notably Gordonstoun, which charges boarders more than £30,000 a year and refuses to take part in the annual publication of the results.
John Edward, director of SCIS, said: “Over half of all Advanced Highers, Highers, Standard Grades and Scottish Baccalaureates sat by pupils in the independent sector this year were awarded grade A.
“That’s a gold-medal achievement by pupils and confirmation of the quality of teaching that exists in the sector.
“Our schools continue to perform exceptionally well at Advanced Higher level, where 16 per cent of all entries were from independent schools, which comprise just over 4 per cent of the total pupil population in Scotland. This means we’re punching well above our weight in terms of exam performance at Advanced Higher.”
Yesterday, a report by Lloyds TSB Private Banking showed the cost of privately educating children in Scotland had soared by 63 per cent in the past ten years, with the average family expected to spend almost £10,000 per child per year.
But Colin Mair, rector of the High School of Glasgow, which charges about £10,000 a year, said exam results showed private schools continued to offer value for money. “There are some areas of the country where parents have very good options in the state sector and many of those schools do a great job,” he said. “A private education is more about a positive ethos and a range of opportunities that help children develop confidence and a sense of responsibility that they can take into their exam work as well.”