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SCHOOLS GUIDE

THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BRITAIN’S BEST SCHOOLS W W

When it comes to selecting a school for your child, the Parent Power league tables are the place to start

The top 100 independent, the top 100 state secondary, 100 of the top preparatory schools and the top primaries PAGES II AND III

CHRIS WOODHEAD

JULIAN ANDREWS

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hen I started teaching in 1969 there was never any doubt: the teacher knew best. Parents came to their annual parents’ meeting to be told how well or how badly their children were doing. Questions were not encouraged and there was little or no discussion. Nobody knew how one school was performing in relation to another because no examination statistics were ever made public. The idea that a national newspaper might publish a supplement which ranked schools in terms of their success would have been greeted with incredulity. Twenty or so years later everything changed. Parliament approved the Education Reform Act and schools were required by law to publish their national curriculum test, GCSE and A-level results. A four-year cycle of school inspections began and all reports had to be lodged in the public library nearest to the school inspected. Parents had access to the information they needed if they were to exercise an intelligent choice about the school they wanted their child to attend. League tables began to be published, and, in 1991, The Sunday Times printed the first Parent Power Schools Guide. Schools had suddenly become accountable to the parents and communities they served. The teacher unions hated it. Ofsted, they squealed, was the 20thcentury equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition. “I’ve never met an incompetent teacher in my life,” screamed one union activist at a London conference I attended as chief inspector in the mid-1990s. As for league tables, they were not worth the paper they were printed on. If children failed to achieve decent exam grades it wasn’t the teachers’ fault. A school’s league table position was determined, the unions argued, by the socioeconomic nature of the community it served. Full stop. The policy of naming and shaming schools through league tables and inspections served only to demoralise and humiliate hard-working professionals and should be abandoned immediately. I thought at the time that the resistance would ebb away. The teaching profession would become more accustomed to the pressure of public accountability and the logic of the argument for accountability would win the day. I was wrong. In 2010, the virus has spread. Opposition to league tables and school accountability is no longer confined to the teacher unions. The Welsh assembly decided to ditch the tables for Welsh schools back in 2001. If English MPs had been given a free vote, they would probably have been abolished in England too.

League tables give parents power they deserve A quarter of English primary schools are refusing to participate in national curriculum tests or, if they do take part, to disclose the results. Two years ago, in a fit of political correctness, Aberdeen city council initially asked the head of Cults Academy to reject our Secondary School of the Year award because it might highlight the sharp disparity of educational provision in the city.

Most surprising of all, a significant number of top independent schools are refusing to reveal anything about their examination success and this paper has to use the Freedom of Information Act to extract results from independent prep schools. The consensus among politicians, educationalists and, perhaps even parents, seems to be that league tables present an inaccu-

rate picture of a school’s strengths and weaknesses and result in a concentration on academic results which damages education. I would prefer the word “incomplete” to “inaccurate”, but there is some truth in the first accusation. League tables focus solely on academic results and say nothing about other important aspects of school life: the quality, for example,

The right chemistry: Reading School boys enjoy learning and competing in the classroom

of its pastoral care or its extracurricular activities. But this point is so obvious it should not need making. It is, of course, true that schools in leafy suburbs which recruit middle-class children tend to be placed higher in the tables than schools in deprived inner-city areas whose pupils, for a whole complex of reasons, can be less motivated or less academically able.

The key word here is “tend”. When we compare one middle-class school with another there can be a significant difference in the examination results. The same is true of inner-city schools — and, crucially, some inner-city schools manage to achieve results that are outstanding by any standard. Kobi Nazrul School in the London borough of Tower Hamlets, where

Find the best schools at thesundaytimes.co.uk/parentpower Your guide to the best schools in Britain starts here, but if you want more information go to thesundaytimes.co.uk/ parentpower. You will find online the full results of The Sunday Times’ 2010-11 survey of Britain’s top 2,000 schools. Our fully searchable online database spans state and independent sectors, primary and secondary education across all of the country. There are new rankings for schools offering the International Baccalaureate and Pre-U examinations to reflect the diversification of provision in sixth forms.

These are the definitive school listings, ranking schools on their achievements in getting the highest possible grades for their students — the grades that are vital to landing a university place. Enter your postcode to find the best schools near where you live. You can also search for schools by name, town and local authority area. In addition to displaying examination results going back as far as 2003, there are links from the Parent Power website to all the latest inspection reports, school websites and essential contact information to help you find the best school for your child.

THE SUNDAY TIMES SCHOOLS OF THE YEAR 2010 Independent secondary Wycombe Abbey School, High Wycombe State secondary Reading School State primary Bathwick St Mary C of E Primary School, Bath Independent prep Oxford High Junior School GDST International Baccalaureate The Stephen Perse Sixth Form College, Cambridge

Scottish independent secondary George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh Scottish state secondary St Ninian’s High School, Giffnock Northern Ireland secondary Coleraine High School

FINDING THE BEST

The best 2,000 schools online thesundaytimes.co.uk/ parentpower

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the pupils often arrive speaking no English and come from extremely disadvantaged homes, achieved, for example, a 100% success rate in English and maths in the national curriculum tests for 11-year-olds when I was chief inspector. It can be done and those who argue that league tables are “flawed” because they reflect the nature of a school’s intake rather than the quality of its teaching have succumbed to a bleak determinism which locks too many children into a culture of low expectation. There is criticism that league tables undermine the breadth of the education a child receives because they encourage an obsession with “teaching to the test”. If this happens, who is to blame, other than the teachers who have let it happen? The schools that have topped our tables which I have had the honour to visit have impressed by the richness of their curriculum and their extracurricular activities. Nothing could be further from the truth than the exam factory caricature which critics of league tables throw at the schools which succeed academically. There is absolutely no reason why excellent academic results should preclude a concern for the whole child. A recent study by the University of Bristol has shown that the examination results of pupils in Welsh schools have deteriorated by 1.92 GCSE grades per pupil since the Welsh assembly abolished league tables. Why? Because, the researchers concluded, the reform has “significantly and systematically reduced school effectiveness”, particularly, they add, the effectiveness of less successful schools. Does this conclusion surprise anyone? If the threat of being named and shamed is withdrawn, then there is no pressure to improve. The response of Leighton Andrews, the Welsh education minister, was to say: “In Wales, over the decade of devolution, we have implemented most of the changes the profession wanted to see. So we don’t have league tables.” Indeed, we don’t. What we do have is schools which are failing their pupils because ministers have listened to arguments designed to protect schools and teachers from public scrutiny. I am left pondering our loss of faith in the drive to empower parents and to make schools accountable. Why shouldn’t successful teachers and schools receive the praise they deserve? How are weaknesses ever going to be remedied if the evidence is never made public? I simply do not understand why the head teachers of some excellent schools, state and independent, have declared they want nothing to do with league tables and educational supplements such as Parent Power. Over the years, countless Sunday Times readers have written to me to say how useful Parent Power has been to them. It would be a tragedy if the clock were to be turned back to the bad old days when the parent was ignored. Schools need the pressure of public scrutiny and parents need information about the schools their children attend or might go to if they are to play their proper part in their education. The nation spends billions of pounds every year on education. We have a right to know how that money is spent and to what effect. Chris Woodhead is a former chief inspector of schools and chairman of the private schools group Cognita


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PARENT POWER

thesundaytimes.co.uk

14.11.10

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Definitive guide to Britain’s top schools

City of London School for Girls Prep Department The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ Prep, Elstree South Hampstead High School Junior, London James Allen’s Preparatory School, London Notting Hill & Ealing High School Junior GDST, London Oxford High School Junior Department GDST Royal Grammar School Newcastle, Junior School Putney High School Junior Dept GDST, London Guildford High Junior School Kensington Prep School GDST, London Wimbledon High School Junior Department GDST Bromley High Junior School GDST Holy Cross Prep School, Kingston-upon-Thames The Queen’s Lower School, Chester Nottingham Girls’ High Junior School GDST City of London Freemen’s School Junior, Ashtead Lanesborough School, Guildford Exeter Junior School Nottingham High Junior School Alleyn's Junior School, London The Abbey Junior School, Reading Carleton House Preparatory School, Liverpool Croydon High School Junior Department GDST Halstead Preparatory School for Girls, Woking Derwent Lodge Preparatory School, Tonbridge Durston House Junior School, London Widford Lodge Preparatory School, Chelmsford Palmers Green High School Junior Dept, London St George’s College Junior School, Weybridge St Anne’s Preparatory School, Chelmsford Forest School Preparatory School, London Heatherton House School, Amersham Berkhamsted Preparatory School The Froebelian School, Leeds Badminton Junior School, Bristol The Portsmouth Grammar Junior School Lochinver House School, Potters Bar Prospect House School, London Sutton High School Junior School GDST St Hilda’s School, Harpenden Westville House School, Ilkley Stroud School, Romsey The Gleddings Preparatory School, Halifax King Henry VIII Preparatory School, Coventry Highfield Priory School, Preston Gidea Park College, Romford Ursuline Preparatory School, Warley, Brentwood St Michael’s School, Leigh-on-Sea Elmhurst School, South Croydon Norfolk House School, Birmingham

888 880 868 865 859 857 854 841 832 831 826 822 804 793 785 784 775 771 771 771 750 745 744 744 739 735 735 731 727 727 720 718 711 706 703 702 700 700 697 697 697 695 692 690 689 689 686 684 678 674

674 673 667 667 664 664 663 661 660 658 657 656 656 655 654 653 648 646 645 644 644 644 641 641 635 635 633 633 632 631 630 630 630 629 626 625 622 621 620 618 615 614 614 612 609 609 608 606 605 603

G B M G G M M M G M G G M M M G M M G G M G M G M G M G M M M G M M G G G G G M G M M M G M M M M G

Boarding schools are proving an increasingly popular choice both in the independent and state sectors, says Judith O’Reilly

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rom Hogwarts to Malory Towers, Dotheboys Hall to St Trinians, boarding schools conjure colourful literary images. But their enduring place in the modern educational landscape is no work of fiction, as Reading School and Wycombe Abbey — the respective Sunday Times State and Independent Secondary Schools of the Year — can testify. For the first time in the history of the Parent Power Schools Guide, both our state and independent secondary title holders are boarding schools. Reading and High Wycombe each credit their successful atmospheres with the added benefits that their boarding communities bring. And with five applicants per place at Reading, and four to one at High Wycombe, parents’ appetites for a boarding school experience for their children are clearly far from abating. Reading is one of just 32 state boarding schools in Britain, and even though there are only 70 boarders split between two houses, their influence on the school culture is immense. The 1870s grade IIlisted architecture adds to Reading’s boarding atmosphere, too, with head teacher John Weeds saying it makes the school look like a miniature version of Harry Potter’s famed alma mater. It may not actually be churning out wizards, but boys-only Reading isn’t your run-of-the-mill school either. This year, an astonishing 77.5% of A-level entries were at A and A* grade — and 34.8% at the new A* grade. A total of 94.5% of entries were at A*-B grade. Results were equally good at GCSE, with 84.4% at A* and A, and 44.7% at A* grade.

The school, described by Ofsted inspectors as “outstanding”, is on the east side of Reading, and its 885 pupils are drawn from a radius of 25 miles, crossing county boundaries from Berkshire into Oxfordshire and Hampshire. Up to 15% of its intake comes from preparatory schools, and boarders also arrive from southwest England and north London. Weeds believes the boarding tradition underpins Reading’s effective pastoral care. “Boys like to have someone to talk to and I don’t think there is a student here who doesn’t feel they have someone to turn to when the need arises.” A recent Ofsted report agrees, highlighting the school’s determination to ensure the boys’ personal development is “outstanding” and that they have a “sense of belonging” and “self-worth”. Boarders contribute massively to the extracurricular programme and also make good prefects and elders in the school community. Annual boarding fees are £9,500 to cover food and lodgings, but there are no tuition fees for any pupils. The school is selective and applicants sit an 11-plus exam for entry into year 7 with papers in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and mathematics as well as English comprehension. There are 12 places for boarders at this level, along with 100 places for day pupils. Applicants for the 12 places in year 9 also sit papers in English, maths and science. This year, the number of 11-plus applicants climbed from 500 to 550. Another 30 students are taken on in the sixth form on the basis of GCSE results, with successful applicants required to have the equivalent of at least six A*s at GCSE.

Reading can lay claim to being the 10th oldest school in the country — it was established in 1125 as part of Reading Abbey. In 1665, it was taken over by parliament which had been forced out of London by the Great Plague. Reading School can boast an Archbishop of Canterbury (William Laud) beheaded in 1645 during the civil war, and four serving MPs who manage to keep their heads, whatever the provocation (Andrew Smith, Oliver Heald, Mark Field and Damien Green). It also has a prime minister — Henry Addington, in Downing Street from 1801-4 — among its old boys. Competition is a key element in the school — academic, sporting and musical. “Boys really do like competition,” Weeds says. There are inter-house competitions in rugby and football and a music contest described as the “highlight of the year”, when all four houses compete against each other with a 30- to 45-minute programme of musical activities from solo to choir, modern jazz and mini-orchestral performances. “It’s not just about the quality of musicianship,” says Weeds. “It’s also about leadership and organising rehearsals, compering, and getting teams of boys to move equipment.” Boys are free not just to compete with one another in extracurricular activities, but to learn. “It’s okay in a single-sex boys school with a reputation for high achievement to regard learning as cool,” Weeds says. “They are not embarrassed to read a book, or to calculate pi to extreme numbers of decimal places and they rate highly another kid’s ability in a language or in physics — all things which might not go down too well in a less academic school. “The boys have a great sense of humour and they are passionate about things, for instance, a form of technology or astronomy, and when you have got very bright lads they talk at undergraduate level even though they are in years 12 and 13. We may have a traditional setting, but there is scope to experiment and innovate and challenge.”

With its long and distinguished history, great results, an ethos of learning, boarding, cloisters, single-sex education, selective entry and free teaching, as Weeds says: “Reading offers the best of the independent sector within a state school setting.” Wycombe Abbey, meanwhile, offers the best of the independent sector. The girls’ boarding school, on the edge of High Wycombe, returned stellar exam results this year. With 90.5% of A-level entries at A* or A, 51.3% at the new A* grade, Wycombe Abbey rocketed to the top of our league table. And it was nearly a clean sweep at GCSE, with more than 99% of entries awarded A* or A — 84% at A*. Led by head teacher Cynthia Hall, now in her third year of tenure, Wycombe Abbey places boarding at the heart of the school community. These days, many boarding schools encourage pupils to go home at weekends, or have large numbers of day boarders who stay at school late into the evening but then go home to sleep. Not so Wycombe Abbey. The school, which was founded in 1896 by educationalist Dame Frances Dove to give girls the opportunity of a Christian liberal educa-

‘‘

Appetites for a boarding school experience for children are far from abating

tion, has just 30 day pupils, all drawn from the local community, and with no plans to expand numbers. There are strict rules about the amount of time the girls spend out of school at weekends or overnight. “The idea of being a full boarding school and having a full community life is something the governors are absolutely committed to,” Hall says. “There are lots of staff at weekends and on site, and that is because we want the girls present in the school on evenings and weekends — we expect them to spend two-thirds of the year living in school. “What this means is that we have responsibility for their personal development and ethical judgment. It means we have to have strong community values because if there are disagreements — as there inevitably are — they have to be worked through within the community because the girls can’t just walk away from them, particularly if they are sleeping in the same dorms or in the same house.” The house system is unusual at Wycombe Abbey. At 11, girls go into a junior house, but from the age of 12, they move into one of nine senior houses and sleep in mixed-age dorms until they are 16. New pupils have an older girl acting as a house mother, and friendships are established across the age range. Some girls take to mothering a young girl naturally, some need guidance and some have to be encouraged to give their young charges breathing space. In the final year of schooling, the upper sixth girls move into a special house with their own study bedrooms and responsibility for some catering and laundry to familiarise them with university life. Naturally enough, friendships are critically important for boarders, and the girls at Wycombe establish friendships for life. There is an enlightened attitude to communications with the free use of mobile phones (most of the girls have BlackBerries or iPhones), although girls are not allowed to use them at night in the dorms and they are also discouraged at mealtimes. “There is a balance between

community life and the need to make phone calls,” says Hall, “and staff understand that.” Facebook is permitted and time is invested in advising girls how to use it. At Wycombe Abbey, rather than using tests to pan for the academic golden girls, 11-plus and 13-plus applicants are invited for a morning or an afternoon, interviewed by the headmistress and take part in four or five lessons. Staff look for students who engage fully and are interested in the work they are presented with, as well as how they interact socially. School reports are critically important in the process. Musical girls are also invited to play their instruments. On the basis of such scrutiny, girls are made a provisional offer providing they achieve an average of just over 60% in the common entrance examination. Set within 160 acres of grounds complete with woods, gardens and a lake, there are four applicants for every place (although some parents also apply for St Paul’s Girls’ School in London and make their decision once offers have been sent out). The popularity of the school is prompting Hall to consider introducing a pre-test offered by Durham University to help with screening. (Lists are already closed for candidates seeking 11-plus and 13-plus entry in 2011.) Understandably, many parents (who pay annual boarding fees of £29,250) are attracted to Wycombe Abbey by the outstanding results. About 30 school-leavers are expected to go on to Oxford and Cambridge — a success rate of about 50%. Another dozen or so go on to Ivy League colleges in America. The futures of Reading boys are similarly full of promise, with almost all going to university, many to Russell Group institutions, and an average of 20 boys a year going to Oxford and Cambridge. The successes that these two beacons of secondary school education make of their pupils might be down to hard work rather than magic, but any school that can spellbind teenagers into doing their best is certainly charmed.

GCSE % A*/A

2009

2010

52 33 South Wilts Grammar School for Girls, Salisbury 53 64 Lancaster Royal Grammar School 54= 61= Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe 54= - Coleraine High School 56 92 Stroud High School 57 48 Ermysted’s Grammar School, Skipton 58= 34 Hockerill Anglo European College, Bishop's Stortford 58= 71 Torquay Girls’ Grammar School 60 59 Royal Latin School, Buckingham 61 58 Caistor Grammar School 62 50 Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Marlow 63 109 The Royal School, Dungannon 64 90 Langley Grammar School 65 - Friends School, Lisburn 66 66 Watford Grammar School for Boys 67 97 Skipton Girl’s High School 68 72 Methodist College Belfast 69 76= King Edward VI Aston School, Birmingham 70 70 High School for Girls, Gloucester 71 44= The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, London 72 54 Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield 73= 119 Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall 73= 93 Banbridge Academy 75 36 Adams’ Grammar School, Newport 76 49 The Rochester Grammar School 77 - Portora Royal School, Enniskillen 78 51 Torquay Boys’ Grammar School 79 87 Southend High School For Boys 80 80 Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Gloucester 81 85 Ballyclare High School 82 91 Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Brixham 83 104 John Hampden Grammar School, High Wycombe 84 96 Townley Grammar School for Girls, Bexleyheath 85= 112 Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen 85= 81 Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone 87 79 Wirral Grammar School for Girls, Bebington 88 69 Birkenhead High School GDST 89 73 King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon 90 78 King David High School, Manchester 91 42 The Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells 92= 68 Parkstone Grammar School, Poole 92= 89 Strathearn School, Belfast 92= - Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast 95 120= Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby 96 100 Queen Mary’s High School, Walsall 97 74 Southend High School for Girls 98 75 Sullivan Upper School, Holywood 99 47 Westcliff High School for Girls 100= 52 JFS School, Harrow 100= 40 Lady Margaret School, London

92.7 89.2 91.1 83.5 84.4 85.2 89.8 91.4 86.6 84.9 85.5 85.5 81.2 83.8 78.9 84.7 81.1 78.1 87.1 79.0 88.4 75.3 83.9 89.1 78.2 76.3 83.3 78.5 68.1 80.4 66.0 77.5 80.4 74.6 75.7 70.9 81.1 73.7 64.0 71.2 67.8 79.3 78.5 74.0 63.0 73.6 78.7 76.5 71.6 69.4 72.7

71.2 76.9 80.0 84.5 72.1 79.3 85.8 77.7 77.1 79.4 76.8 83.5 78.0 79.4 82.0 80.1 75.7 76.5 73.1 79.5 77.4 72.1 81.3 70.8 76.3 83.2 70.4 78.5 75.3 83.1 73.4 78.9 70.3 79.1 73.5 66.6 74.2 71.5 76.3 70.3 71.6 74.1 76.2 76.0 72.8 72.8 75.2 71.5 76.0 71.1

83.6 71.5 63.7 54.7 79.0 64.6 51.4 67.6 68.0 62.1 66.3 52.5 63.3 60.0 54.4 57.9 66.6 64.2 70.3 57.2 61.4 71.9 53.6 73.5 61.8 46.7 72.2 55.6 61.3 45.4 64.2 52.2 69.0 51.0 62.2 75.6 60.2 65.4 55.5 67.3 64.6 59.7 55.4 55.3 59.2 59.0 54.1 60.9 51.0 60.8

THE TOP 100 STATE PRIMARY SCHOOLS

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10= 10= 12 13= 13= 15 16 17 18 19= 19= 19= 22 23 24 25 26 27 28= 28= 30 31 32= 32= 34= 34= 34= 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45= 45= 47= 47= 49 50=

1 2 3 19 21= 337 5= 5= 101 21= 5= 10= 35 10= 14 16 49 47= 339 111= 20 93= 121 216= 126= 8= 44 30 78 440= 26 108= 178= 69= 134 43 77 8= 31= 45= 111= 118 36 4 72

South Farnham Community Junior School Manor Primary School, Wolverhampton North Cheshire Jewish Primary School, Cheadle Bathwick St Mary C of E Primary School, Bath St Elizabeth’s RC School, Richmond-upon-Thames St Patrick’s RC Primary School, Corby The Deans Primary School, Manchester Groombridge St Thomas’ C of E Primary, Tunbridge Wells Berkswell C of E VA Primary School, Coventry Our Lady of the Rosary RC Primary School, Bristol Hill Top C of E Primary School, Bradford Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School, Putney Hampden Gurney C of E Primary School, London Little Leigh Primary School, Northwich Hambleton Primary School, Poulton-le-Fylde Eastington Primary School, Stonehouse King David Junior School, Manchester Clenchwarton Community Primary School, King's Lynn Bentley C of E Primary School, Farnham The Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Manchester Tetherdown Primary School, Muswell Hill, London St James’ RC Primary School, Orpington Holy Trinity and Saint Silas C of E School, London Ashton Hayes Primary School, Chester Riverside Primary School, Rotherhithe, London St Chad’s C of E Primary School, Oldham Laneshawbridge Primary School, Colne Lytham Hall Park Primary School, Lytham St Annes Red Rose Primary School, Chester-le-Street Park Road Primary School, Sale English Martyrs’ RC Primary, Nottingham Castleview Primary School, Slough Cunningham Hill Junior School, St Albans St Agnes’ RC Primary School, Ryton St Anne’s RC Primary School, Streetly, Sutton Coldfield Holy Cross RC Primary School, Nottingham St Clare’s RC Primary School, Acklam St Monica’s RC Primary School, London Shiplake C of E School, Henley-on-Thames Reepham C of E Primary School, Lincoln St Joseph’s RC Junior School, Reddish, Stockport Twiss Green Community Primary School, Warrington Foxmoor Primary School, Stroud Little Chalfont Primary School, Amersham Eaglesfield Paddle C of E VA School, Cockermouth Greenmount Primary School, Bury St Anselm’s RC Primary School, Tooting Bec, London Ramsbottom Stubbins Primary School, Bury Helsby Hillside Primary School, Frodsham Oxton St Saviour’s C of E Aided Primary School, Prenton

900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 899 897 897 897 897 897 896 896 895 895 895 894 894 894 894 893 893 893 893 893 893 892 892 892 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891

50= 50= 53 54 55 56 57 58 59= 59= 61= 61= 63= 63= 63= 63= 67= 67= 67= 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91= 91= 93= 93= 95 96 97= 97= 99 100

362 50= 52 75 56 138 24 28 155 79= 142= 18 345 198= 81= 59 61 115= 88 62 411= 289= 123 40 161 73= 205 13 350 97 55 68 37 260= 296 64 17 142= 92 313= 33 45= 147 95

KS2, level 4 aggregate (2007-9)

Not Hogwarts, but just magic

97.9 95.7 92.4 95.8 94.5 92.5 90.0 89.2 91.5 91.8 91.4 90.2 91.4 88.3 90.0 87.0 88.1 89.2 84.7 88.1 83.4 89.0 84.5 81.2 86.3 86.3 81.1 82.7 86.5 80.1 87.0 81.0 79.2 81.9 81.2 83.4 78.1 81.8 86.3 82.6 83.9 77.9 78.1 80.1 85.4 79.9 76.5 77.5 79.5 79.1 76.8

2009

Gender

51 28= Surbiton High Junior Girls’ School 52 94 Dulwich College Junior School, London 53 68 Twickenham Preparatory School 54 42 Seaton House School, Sutton 55 43= Central Newcastle High School (Juniors) GDST 56 - Cameron House School, London 57 88= Brentwood Preparatory School 58 90= Vita Et Pax Preparatory School, London 59 64= Streatham and Clapham High School Junior Dept GDST 60 81 Crown House Preparatory School, High Wycombe 61 108 St Hilary's School, Godalming 62 88= The Manor Preparatory School, Abingdon 63 139=St Pius X Preparatory School, Preston 64 53= Sunderland High School Junior School 65 64= Garden House School, London 66 96 Newbridge Preparatory School, Wolverhampton 67 38= Hilden Grange Preparatory School, Tonbridge 68 109=St Peter and St Paul Independent School, Chesterfield 69 83= Portsmouth High School Junior Dept GDST 70 46= The Royal High Junior School GDST, Bath 71 52 Copthill Independent Day School, Stamford 72 74= Lyonsdown School, New Barnet 73 86 Bablake Junior School, Coventry 74 67 St Mary's School, Hampstead 75 36 Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells 76 59 White House Preparatory School, Wokingham 77 79 Moorlands School, Luton 78 76 Eton End School, Datchet 79 143 St Teresa’s RC School, Princes Risborough 80 82 Birkdale School, Sheffield 81 71 Stockport Grammar Junior School 82 92 Highfield School, Maidenhead 83 115=Bootham Junior School, York 84 109=Belmont, Mill Hill Preparatory School, London 85 104 Norwich High School for Girls Junior Dept GDST 86 98= Sheffield High School Junior Dept GDST 87 48= Heathfield Junior School GDST, Pinner 88 144=The Red Maids' Junior School, Bristol 89 112 Stormont School, Potters Bar 90 174=Chethams School of Music, Manchester 91 165 Wimbledon Ursuline Preparatory School 92 133 Beechwood Park School, St Albans 93 - Laxton Junior School, Oundle 94 122= The Peterborough School Preparatory Dept 95 113=Ipswich High School Junior School GDST 96 171 Forest School, Altrincham 97 135=St Helen’s College, Hillingdon 98 90= Waverley School, Wokingham 99 189 Alpha Preparatory School, Harrow 100 168 St Mary’s School, Colchester

KS2, level 5 aggregate (2007-9)

G B G G G G M G G G G G G G G M B M B M G M G G G B M G M M M G M M G M B M G G M M M M M M M M B M

2009

2010

1 2 4 5 8 9 6 11 7 12 10 15 14 13 19 26 20 21 24 34 33 27 25 32 30 17 22 23 28= 46= 60 31 56 51 50 37 48= 83= 73 38= 38= 105 69= 43= 61 107 58

Gender

2009

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

KS2, level 5 aggregate (2007-9)

2010

THE TOP 100 PREP SCHOOLS

The Henrietta Barnett School, London Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet The Latymer School, London St Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington Reading School Altrincham Grammar School for Girls Tiffin Girls School, Kingston-upon-Thames Kendrick School, Reading Colchester Royal Grammar School Colyton Grammar School Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham Tiffin School, Kingston-upon-Thames Wilson’s School, Wallington Newstead Wood School for Girls, Orpington King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton Dr Challoner’s High School, Amersham King Edward VI Handsworth School, Birmingham Chelmsford County High School for Girls King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham St Michael’s RC Grammar School, Finchley Lumen Christi College, Londonderry Colchester County High School for Girls King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham The Judd School, Tonbridge Sutton Grammar School for Boys Wallington High School for Girls Woodford County High School, Woodford Green Watford Grammar School for Girls Wolverhampton Girls’ High School King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham The Blue Coat School, Liverpool Tonbridge Grammar School Wallington County Grammar School Wycombe High School Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls Ilford County High School Rugby High School Dame Alice Owen’s School, Potters Bar Beaconsfield High School Newport Girls’ High School Bishop Wordsworth School, Salisbury St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls Aylesbury Grammar School Aylesbury High School Westcliff High School for Boys

2010

A strong community: Wycombe Abbey girls famously form friendships for life

1 4 2 12 11 15 7 3 8 6 9 19 5 21 16 14 23 24 22 25 20 17 13 10 27 28 46 18 43 39 30 55 31 56 37 35 29 53 84 38 41 86 63 32 67 26 44= 60 56 65

A-level %A*-B GCSE % A*/A

1 2 3 4 5 6 7= 7= 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39= 39= 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

KS2, level 4 aggregate (2007-9)

83.7 85.4 78.8 80.6 84.2 78.3 82.4 84.1 79.0 75.0 86.7 82.3 81.6 81.1 80.9 75.3 82.3 80.0 78.1 76.7 74.9 70.4 69.7 72.1 73.1 86.6 73.9 76.3 74.4 77.5 76.5 80.0 63.0 72.7 73.1 68.9 77.0 81.1 71.6 74.9 72.9 70.2 75.1 76.6 79.1 74.8 70.8 69.0 74.4 73.4

2009

90.9 89.7 92.7 91.8 90.0 92.3 90.1 89.0 91.5 93.1 86.8 88.5 88.5 88.7 88.7 91.4 87.9 88.7 88.6 89.3 90.1 92.3 92.5 91.1 90.0 82.9 88.8 87.5 88.4 86.5 86.8 84.9 93.2 88.4 88.1 90.1 86.0 83.8 88.2 86.2 87.3 88.5 85.6 84.9 83.5 85.6 87.1 88.0 85.1 85.5

2009

57 Latymer Upper School, London 33 Hampton School, London 49 St Helen’s School, Northwood 50= University College School, London 61= Dulwich College, London 81 The King’s School, Canterbury 41 Radley College, Abingdon 59 Oundle School, Peterborough 73 Abingdon School 53 Loughborough High School 72 Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green 80 Kingston Grammar School 37= St Albans School 54 City of London Freemen's School, Ashtead 63 Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne 100 King Edward VI School, Southampton 67 Benenden School, Cranbrook 152= Ipswich High School GDST 90 Sir William Perkins’s School, Chertsey 112= The Abbey School, Reading 106 Nottingham Girls’ High School GDST 107 Caterham School 198 Queen Margaret’s School, York 71 St Mary’s School Calne 68= Trinity School, Croydon 45 The Grange School, Hartford 76 Eltham College, London 58 Central Newcastle High School GDST 103=Warwick School 68= Queen’s Gate School, London 119= Burgess Hill School for Girls 60 Rugby School 83 Wellington College, Crowthorne 131= Francis Holland School, Regent's Park 105 Bromley High School GDST 178 Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, Bristol 82 Marlborough College 46= The Queen’s School, Chester 147 Dauntsey’s School, Devizes 84= Queenswood, Hatfield 84= Reigate Grammar School 78= Whitgift School, Croydon 160 Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, Liverpool 95 St Peter’s School, York 194 Twycross House School, Atherstone 187 Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls 144=Stockport Grammar School 121= Bristol Grammar School 124 Derby High School 74 Canford School, Wimborne

2010

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83= 83= 85 86 87 88 89 90= 90= 92 93= 93= 95 96 97 98 99 100

99.3 97.3 98.0 99.1 96.6 97.8 96.5 96.5 96.4 96.4 91.5 95.7 92.5 88.7 93.5 89.4 98.1 90.8 91.6 89.0 87.9 94.1 90.2 92.9 90.7 91.2 87.9 91.3 90.4 85.2 90.5 83.8 87.2 88.4 85.6 87.5 87.5 86.9 85.8 88.9 81.3 88.9 85.0 81.1 86.0 86.9 81.0 88.0 88.6 89.2

2010

99.3 99.7 99.3 98.2 98.3 97.5 97.9 97.7 96.3 96.3 98.5 96.2 96.6 98.2 95.3 97.3 92.9 96.3 95.9 97.0 97.4 94.1 95.9 94.2 95.1 94.6 96.1 94.4 93.1 95.6 92.8 95.1 93.4 92.7 94.1 92.7 92.7 92.7 93.0 91.0 94.3 90.3 91.8 93.5 91.0 90.3 92.8 89.1 88.6 88.3

GCSE % A*/A

Wycombe Abbey School, High Wycombe Magdalen College School, Oxford St Paul’s School, London St Paul’s Girls School, London The North London Collegiate School, Edgware City of London School for Girls Westminster School, London Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Elstree Perse Girls/Stephen Perse Sixth Form, Cambridge Withington Girls' School, Manchester Guildford High School for Girls Eton College, Windsor King's College School, Wimbledon Notting Hill and Ealing High School GDST, London James Allen’s Girls’ School, London The Haberdashers' Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree The Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton The School of St Helen and St Katharine, Abingdon Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood Manchester Grammar School Sevenoaks School Royal Grammar School, Guildford Oxford High School GDST South Hampstead High School GDST, London The Godolphin and Latymer School, London The Cheltenham Ladies’ College Tonbridge School Putney High School GDST, London City of London School St Catherine’s School, Bramley, Guildford King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham King Edward’s School, Birmingham The Perse School, Cambridge St Mary’s School Ascot Harrow School Headington School, Oxford Alleyn’s School, London Manchester High School for Girls St Albans High School for Girls Tormead School, Guildford Brighton College Wimbledon High School GDST The Maynard School, Exeter King’s High School for Girls, Warwick Highgate School, London Downe House, Thatcham Concord College, Shrewsbury St Swithun’s School, Winchester Badminton School, Bristol Channing School, London

A-level %A*-B

8 5 4 6 3 10 2 16 7 1 15 12 13 39 23 17 11 24 26 28 14 9 18 20 31= 21 35= 35= 42= 44 22 40 34 29 31= 52 37= 25 50= 46= 42= 61= 94 78= 64 27 65 30 66 48

2009

1 2= 2= 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16= 16= 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32= 32= 34 35 36= 36= 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49= 49=

2010

Ranking based on 2010 examination results with A*-B grades at A-level double weighted

A-level %A*-B GCSE % A*/A

Ranking based on 2010 examination results with A*-B grades at A-level double weighted 2009

THE TOP 100 STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS

2010

THE TOP 100 INDEPENDENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS

A-level %A*-B

FRANCESCO GUIDICINI

St Alban’s C of E (Aided) Primary School, Rotherham Woodlea Primary School, Houghton-le-Spring St Osmund's RC Primary School, London Shincliffe C of E (Controlled) Primary School, Durham Woodville Primary School, South Woodham Ferrers Ashdene Primary School, Wilmslow St Edmund Campion RC Primary School, Nottingham William Ransom Primary School, Hitchin Blackrod Primary School, Bolton St Joseph’s RC Junior Infant and Nursery School, Oldham Hall Meadow Primary School, Kettering Oakridge Primary School, Stafford Galley Hill Primary School, Guisborough Pewithall Primary School, Runcorn Scotts Primary School, Hornchurch St Andrew’s C of E VA School, Totteridge Brindishe Lee Primary School, London Oak Cottage Primary School, Solihull St Boniface RC Primary School, Salford Berkswich C of E (VC) Primary School, Stafford St Michael’s RC VA Primary School, Esh Laude Silkstone Common Junior and Infant School, Barnsley Bonner Primary School, London Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary School, Salford SS Philip and James’ C of E VA Primary School, Oxford Westbrook Lane Primary School, Leeds St John Vianney RC Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne Crowlees C of E VC School, Mirfield St Peter’s RC Primary School, Stalybridge St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Sale Templewood Primary School, Welwyn Garden City St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Bingley St Anne’s C of E Primary School, Bakewell Cookham Dean C of E Primary School, Maidenhead Hursthead Junior School, Cheadle St Bede’s RC Junior School, Widnes Wallace Fields Junior School, Epsom Chilcote Primary School, Birmingham Belmont Primary School, Chiswick St Peter’s C of E VA Aided School, South Weald St Elphin’s (Fairfield) C of E VA Aided School Tickhill Estfeld Primary School, Doncaster St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School, Englefield Green St Patrick’s RC Primary and Nursery School, Mansfield Hatfield Heath Community School, Bishop's Stortford St John’s RC Primary School, Poulton-le-Fylde Cherry Burton C of E VC School, Beverley St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Nottingham Pownall Green Primary School, Stockport Our Lady and St Werburgh's RC School, Newcastle upon Tyne

891 891 891 891 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 889 889 889 889 889 888 888 888 888 888 888 888 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 886 886


II

PARENT POWER

thesundaytimes.co.uk

14.11.10

III

Definitive guide to Britain’s top schools

City of London School for Girls Prep Department The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ Prep, Elstree South Hampstead High School Junior, London James Allen’s Preparatory School, London Notting Hill & Ealing High School Junior GDST, London Oxford High School Junior Department GDST Royal Grammar School Newcastle, Junior School Putney High School Junior Dept GDST, London Guildford High Junior School Kensington Prep School GDST, London Wimbledon High School Junior Department GDST Bromley High Junior School GDST Holy Cross Prep School, Kingston-upon-Thames The Queen’s Lower School, Chester Nottingham Girls’ High Junior School GDST City of London Freemen’s School Junior, Ashtead Lanesborough School, Guildford Exeter Junior School Nottingham High Junior School Alleyn's Junior School, London The Abbey Junior School, Reading Carleton House Preparatory School, Liverpool Croydon High School Junior Department GDST Halstead Preparatory School for Girls, Woking Derwent Lodge Preparatory School, Tonbridge Durston House Junior School, London Widford Lodge Preparatory School, Chelmsford Palmers Green High School Junior Dept, London St George’s College Junior School, Weybridge St Anne’s Preparatory School, Chelmsford Forest School Preparatory School, London Heatherton House School, Amersham Berkhamsted Preparatory School The Froebelian School, Leeds Badminton Junior School, Bristol The Portsmouth Grammar Junior School Lochinver House School, Potters Bar Prospect House School, London Sutton High School Junior School GDST St Hilda’s School, Harpenden Westville House School, Ilkley Stroud School, Romsey The Gleddings Preparatory School, Halifax King Henry VIII Preparatory School, Coventry Highfield Priory School, Preston Gidea Park College, Romford Ursuline Preparatory School, Warley, Brentwood St Michael’s School, Leigh-on-Sea Elmhurst School, South Croydon Norfolk House School, Birmingham

888 880 868 865 859 857 854 841 832 831 826 822 804 793 785 784 775 771 771 771 750 745 744 744 739 735 735 731 727 727 720 718 711 706 703 702 700 700 697 697 697 695 692 690 689 689 686 684 678 674

674 673 667 667 664 664 663 661 660 658 657 656 656 655 654 653 648 646 645 644 644 644 641 641 635 635 633 633 632 631 630 630 630 629 626 625 622 621 620 618 615 614 614 612 609 609 608 606 605 603

G B M G G M M M G M G G M M M G M M G G M G M G M G M G M M M G M M G G G G G M G M M M G M M M M G

Boarding schools are proving an increasingly popular choice both in the independent and state sectors, says Judith O’Reilly

F

rom Hogwarts to Malory Towers, Dotheboys Hall to St Trinians, boarding schools conjure colourful literary images. But their enduring place in the modern educational landscape is no work of fiction, as Reading School and Wycombe Abbey — the respective Sunday Times State and Independent Secondary Schools of the Year — can testify. For the first time in the history of the Parent Power Schools Guide, both our state and independent secondary title holders are boarding schools. Reading and High Wycombe each credit their successful atmospheres with the added benefits that their boarding communities bring. And with five applicants per place at Reading, and four to one at High Wycombe, parents’ appetites for a boarding school experience for their children are clearly far from abating. Reading is one of just 32 state boarding schools in Britain, and even though there are only 70 boarders split between two houses, their influence on the school culture is immense. The 1870s grade IIlisted architecture adds to Reading’s boarding atmosphere, too, with head teacher John Weeds saying it makes the school look like a miniature version of Harry Potter’s famed alma mater. It may not actually be churning out wizards, but boys-only Reading isn’t your run-of-the-mill school either. This year, an astonishing 77.5% of A-level entries were at A and A* grade — and 34.8% at the new A* grade. A total of 94.5% of entries were at A*-B grade. Results were equally good at GCSE, with 84.4% at A* and A, and 44.7% at A* grade.

The school, described by Ofsted inspectors as “outstanding”, is on the east side of Reading, and its 885 pupils are drawn from a radius of 25 miles, crossing county boundaries from Berkshire into Oxfordshire and Hampshire. Up to 15% of its intake comes from preparatory schools, and boarders also arrive from southwest England and north London. Weeds believes the boarding tradition underpins Reading’s effective pastoral care. “Boys like to have someone to talk to and I don’t think there is a student here who doesn’t feel they have someone to turn to when the need arises.” A recent Ofsted report agrees, highlighting the school’s determination to ensure the boys’ personal development is “outstanding” and that they have a “sense of belonging” and “self-worth”. Boarders contribute massively to the extracurricular programme and also make good prefects and elders in the school community. Annual boarding fees are £9,500 to cover food and lodgings, but there are no tuition fees for any pupils. The school is selective and applicants sit an 11-plus exam for entry into year 7 with papers in verbal reasoning, non-verbal reasoning and mathematics as well as English comprehension. There are 12 places for boarders at this level, along with 100 places for day pupils. Applicants for the 12 places in year 9 also sit papers in English, maths and science. This year, the number of 11-plus applicants climbed from 500 to 550. Another 30 students are taken on in the sixth form on the basis of GCSE results, with successful applicants required to have the equivalent of at least six A*s at GCSE.

Reading can lay claim to being the 10th oldest school in the country — it was established in 1125 as part of Reading Abbey. In 1665, it was taken over by parliament which had been forced out of London by the Great Plague. Reading School can boast an Archbishop of Canterbury (William Laud) beheaded in 1645 during the civil war, and four serving MPs who manage to keep their heads, whatever the provocation (Andrew Smith, Oliver Heald, Mark Field and Damien Green). It also has a prime minister — Henry Addington, in Downing Street from 1801-4 — among its old boys. Competition is a key element in the school — academic, sporting and musical. “Boys really do like competition,” Weeds says. There are inter-house competitions in rugby and football and a music contest described as the “highlight of the year”, when all four houses compete against each other with a 30- to 45-minute programme of musical activities from solo to choir, modern jazz and mini-orchestral performances. “It’s not just about the quality of musicianship,” says Weeds. “It’s also about leadership and organising rehearsals, compering, and getting teams of boys to move equipment.” Boys are free not just to compete with one another in extracurricular activities, but to learn. “It’s okay in a single-sex boys school with a reputation for high achievement to regard learning as cool,” Weeds says. “They are not embarrassed to read a book, or to calculate pi to extreme numbers of decimal places and they rate highly another kid’s ability in a language or in physics — all things which might not go down too well in a less academic school. “The boys have a great sense of humour and they are passionate about things, for instance, a form of technology or astronomy, and when you have got very bright lads they talk at undergraduate level even though they are in years 12 and 13. We may have a traditional setting, but there is scope to experiment and innovate and challenge.”

With its long and distinguished history, great results, an ethos of learning, boarding, cloisters, single-sex education, selective entry and free teaching, as Weeds says: “Reading offers the best of the independent sector within a state school setting.” Wycombe Abbey, meanwhile, offers the best of the independent sector. The girls’ boarding school, on the edge of High Wycombe, returned stellar exam results this year. With 90.5% of A-level entries at A* or A, 51.3% at the new A* grade, Wycombe Abbey rocketed to the top of our league table. And it was nearly a clean sweep at GCSE, with more than 99% of entries awarded A* or A — 84% at A*. Led by head teacher Cynthia Hall, now in her third year of tenure, Wycombe Abbey places boarding at the heart of the school community. These days, many boarding schools encourage pupils to go home at weekends, or have large numbers of day boarders who stay at school late into the evening but then go home to sleep. Not so Wycombe Abbey. The school, which was founded in 1896 by educationalist Dame Frances Dove to give girls the opportunity of a Christian liberal educa-

‘‘

Appetites for a boarding school experience for children are far from abating

tion, has just 30 day pupils, all drawn from the local community, and with no plans to expand numbers. There are strict rules about the amount of time the girls spend out of school at weekends or overnight. “The idea of being a full boarding school and having a full community life is something the governors are absolutely committed to,” Hall says. “There are lots of staff at weekends and on site, and that is because we want the girls present in the school on evenings and weekends — we expect them to spend two-thirds of the year living in school. “What this means is that we have responsibility for their personal development and ethical judgment. It means we have to have strong community values because if there are disagreements — as there inevitably are — they have to be worked through within the community because the girls can’t just walk away from them, particularly if they are sleeping in the same dorms or in the same house.” The house system is unusual at Wycombe Abbey. At 11, girls go into a junior house, but from the age of 12, they move into one of nine senior houses and sleep in mixed-age dorms until they are 16. New pupils have an older girl acting as a house mother, and friendships are established across the age range. Some girls take to mothering a young girl naturally, some need guidance and some have to be encouraged to give their young charges breathing space. In the final year of schooling, the upper sixth girls move into a special house with their own study bedrooms and responsibility for some catering and laundry to familiarise them with university life. Naturally enough, friendships are critically important for boarders, and the girls at Wycombe establish friendships for life. There is an enlightened attitude to communications with the free use of mobile phones (most of the girls have BlackBerries or iPhones), although girls are not allowed to use them at night in the dorms and they are also discouraged at mealtimes. “There is a balance between

community life and the need to make phone calls,” says Hall, “and staff understand that.” Facebook is permitted and time is invested in advising girls how to use it. At Wycombe Abbey, rather than using tests to pan for the academic golden girls, 11-plus and 13-plus applicants are invited for a morning or an afternoon, interviewed by the headmistress and take part in four or five lessons. Staff look for students who engage fully and are interested in the work they are presented with, as well as how they interact socially. School reports are critically important in the process. Musical girls are also invited to play their instruments. On the basis of such scrutiny, girls are made a provisional offer providing they achieve an average of just over 60% in the common entrance examination. Set within 160 acres of grounds complete with woods, gardens and a lake, there are four applicants for every place (although some parents also apply for St Paul’s Girls’ School in London and make their decision once offers have been sent out). The popularity of the school is prompting Hall to consider introducing a pre-test offered by Durham University to help with screening. (Lists are already closed for candidates seeking 11-plus and 13-plus entry in 2011.) Understandably, many parents (who pay annual boarding fees of £29,250) are attracted to Wycombe Abbey by the outstanding results. About 30 school-leavers are expected to go on to Oxford and Cambridge — a success rate of about 50%. Another dozen or so go on to Ivy League colleges in America. The futures of Reading boys are similarly full of promise, with almost all going to university, many to Russell Group institutions, and an average of 20 boys a year going to Oxford and Cambridge. The successes that these two beacons of secondary school education make of their pupils might be down to hard work rather than magic, but any school that can spellbind teenagers into doing their best is certainly charmed.

GCSE % A*/A

2009

2010

52 33 South Wilts Grammar School for Girls, Salisbury 53 64 Lancaster Royal Grammar School 54= 61= Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe 54= - Coleraine High School 56 92 Stroud High School 57 48 Ermysted’s Grammar School, Skipton 58= 34 Hockerill Anglo European College, Bishop's Stortford 58= 71 Torquay Girls’ Grammar School 60 59 Royal Latin School, Buckingham 61 58 Caistor Grammar School 62 50 Sir William Borlase’s Grammar School, Marlow 63 109 The Royal School, Dungannon 64 90 Langley Grammar School 65 - Friends School, Lisburn 66 66 Watford Grammar School for Boys 67 97 Skipton Girl’s High School 68 72 Methodist College Belfast 69 76= King Edward VI Aston School, Birmingham 70 70 High School for Girls, Gloucester 71 44= The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, London 72 54 Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School, Sutton Coldfield 73= 119 Queen Mary’s Grammar School, Walsall 73= 93 Banbridge Academy 75 36 Adams’ Grammar School, Newport 76 49 The Rochester Grammar School 77 - Portora Royal School, Enniskillen 78 51 Torquay Boys’ Grammar School 79 87 Southend High School For Boys 80 80 Sir Thomas Rich’s School, Gloucester 81 85 Ballyclare High School 82 91 Churston Ferrers Grammar School, Brixham 83 104 John Hampden Grammar School, High Wycombe 84 96 Townley Grammar School for Girls, Bexleyheath 85= 112 Collegiate Grammar School, Enniskillen 85= 81 Invicta Grammar School, Maidstone 87 79 Wirral Grammar School for Girls, Bebington 88 69 Birkenhead High School GDST 89 73 King Edward VI School, Stratford-upon-Avon 90 78 King David High School, Manchester 91 42 The Skinners’ School, Tunbridge Wells 92= 68 Parkstone Grammar School, Poole 92= 89 Strathearn School, Belfast 92= - Aquinas Diocesan Grammar School, Belfast 95 120= Lawrence Sheriff School, Rugby 96 100 Queen Mary’s High School, Walsall 97 74 Southend High School for Girls 98 75 Sullivan Upper School, Holywood 99 47 Westcliff High School for Girls 100= 52 JFS School, Harrow 100= 40 Lady Margaret School, London

92.7 89.2 91.1 83.5 84.4 85.2 89.8 91.4 86.6 84.9 85.5 85.5 81.2 83.8 78.9 84.7 81.1 78.1 87.1 79.0 88.4 75.3 83.9 89.1 78.2 76.3 83.3 78.5 68.1 80.4 66.0 77.5 80.4 74.6 75.7 70.9 81.1 73.7 64.0 71.2 67.8 79.3 78.5 74.0 63.0 73.6 78.7 76.5 71.6 69.4 72.7

71.2 76.9 80.0 84.5 72.1 79.3 85.8 77.7 77.1 79.4 76.8 83.5 78.0 79.4 82.0 80.1 75.7 76.5 73.1 79.5 77.4 72.1 81.3 70.8 76.3 83.2 70.4 78.5 75.3 83.1 73.4 78.9 70.3 79.1 73.5 66.6 74.2 71.5 76.3 70.3 71.6 74.1 76.2 76.0 72.8 72.8 75.2 71.5 76.0 71.1

83.6 71.5 63.7 54.7 79.0 64.6 51.4 67.6 68.0 62.1 66.3 52.5 63.3 60.0 54.4 57.9 66.6 64.2 70.3 57.2 61.4 71.9 53.6 73.5 61.8 46.7 72.2 55.6 61.3 45.4 64.2 52.2 69.0 51.0 62.2 75.6 60.2 65.4 55.5 67.3 64.6 59.7 55.4 55.3 59.2 59.0 54.1 60.9 51.0 60.8

THE TOP 100 STATE PRIMARY SCHOOLS

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10= 10= 12 13= 13= 15 16 17 18 19= 19= 19= 22 23 24 25 26 27 28= 28= 30 31 32= 32= 34= 34= 34= 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45= 45= 47= 47= 49 50=

1 2 3 19 21= 337 5= 5= 101 21= 5= 10= 35 10= 14 16 49 47= 339 111= 20 93= 121 216= 126= 8= 44 30 78 440= 26 108= 178= 69= 134 43 77 8= 31= 45= 111= 118 36 4 72

South Farnham Community Junior School Manor Primary School, Wolverhampton North Cheshire Jewish Primary School, Cheadle Bathwick St Mary C of E Primary School, Bath St Elizabeth’s RC School, Richmond-upon-Thames St Patrick’s RC Primary School, Corby The Deans Primary School, Manchester Groombridge St Thomas’ C of E Primary, Tunbridge Wells Berkswell C of E VA Primary School, Coventry Our Lady of the Rosary RC Primary School, Bristol Hill Top C of E Primary School, Bradford Our Lady of Victories RC Primary School, Putney Hampden Gurney C of E Primary School, London Little Leigh Primary School, Northwich Hambleton Primary School, Poulton-le-Fylde Eastington Primary School, Stonehouse King David Junior School, Manchester Clenchwarton Community Primary School, King's Lynn Bentley C of E Primary School, Farnham The Sacred Heart RC Primary School, Manchester Tetherdown Primary School, Muswell Hill, London St James’ RC Primary School, Orpington Holy Trinity and Saint Silas C of E School, London Ashton Hayes Primary School, Chester Riverside Primary School, Rotherhithe, London St Chad’s C of E Primary School, Oldham Laneshawbridge Primary School, Colne Lytham Hall Park Primary School, Lytham St Annes Red Rose Primary School, Chester-le-Street Park Road Primary School, Sale English Martyrs’ RC Primary, Nottingham Castleview Primary School, Slough Cunningham Hill Junior School, St Albans St Agnes’ RC Primary School, Ryton St Anne’s RC Primary School, Streetly, Sutton Coldfield Holy Cross RC Primary School, Nottingham St Clare’s RC Primary School, Acklam St Monica’s RC Primary School, London Shiplake C of E School, Henley-on-Thames Reepham C of E Primary School, Lincoln St Joseph’s RC Junior School, Reddish, Stockport Twiss Green Community Primary School, Warrington Foxmoor Primary School, Stroud Little Chalfont Primary School, Amersham Eaglesfield Paddle C of E VA School, Cockermouth Greenmount Primary School, Bury St Anselm’s RC Primary School, Tooting Bec, London Ramsbottom Stubbins Primary School, Bury Helsby Hillside Primary School, Frodsham Oxton St Saviour’s C of E Aided Primary School, Prenton

900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 900 899 897 897 897 897 897 896 896 895 895 895 894 894 894 894 893 893 893 893 893 893 892 892 892 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891 891

50= 50= 53 54 55 56 57 58 59= 59= 61= 61= 63= 63= 63= 63= 67= 67= 67= 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91= 91= 93= 93= 95 96 97= 97= 99 100

362 50= 52 75 56 138 24 28 155 79= 142= 18 345 198= 81= 59 61 115= 88 62 411= 289= 123 40 161 73= 205 13 350 97 55 68 37 260= 296 64 17 142= 92 313= 33 45= 147 95

KS2, level 4 aggregate (2007-9)

Not Hogwarts, but just magic

97.9 95.7 92.4 95.8 94.5 92.5 90.0 89.2 91.5 91.8 91.4 90.2 91.4 88.3 90.0 87.0 88.1 89.2 84.7 88.1 83.4 89.0 84.5 81.2 86.3 86.3 81.1 82.7 86.5 80.1 87.0 81.0 79.2 81.9 81.2 83.4 78.1 81.8 86.3 82.6 83.9 77.9 78.1 80.1 85.4 79.9 76.5 77.5 79.5 79.1 76.8

2009

Gender

51 28= Surbiton High Junior Girls’ School 52 94 Dulwich College Junior School, London 53 68 Twickenham Preparatory School 54 42 Seaton House School, Sutton 55 43= Central Newcastle High School (Juniors) GDST 56 - Cameron House School, London 57 88= Brentwood Preparatory School 58 90= Vita Et Pax Preparatory School, London 59 64= Streatham and Clapham High School Junior Dept GDST 60 81 Crown House Preparatory School, High Wycombe 61 108 St Hilary's School, Godalming 62 88= The Manor Preparatory School, Abingdon 63 139=St Pius X Preparatory School, Preston 64 53= Sunderland High School Junior School 65 64= Garden House School, London 66 96 Newbridge Preparatory School, Wolverhampton 67 38= Hilden Grange Preparatory School, Tonbridge 68 109=St Peter and St Paul Independent School, Chesterfield 69 83= Portsmouth High School Junior Dept GDST 70 46= The Royal High Junior School GDST, Bath 71 52 Copthill Independent Day School, Stamford 72 74= Lyonsdown School, New Barnet 73 86 Bablake Junior School, Coventry 74 67 St Mary's School, Hampstead 75 36 Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells 76 59 White House Preparatory School, Wokingham 77 79 Moorlands School, Luton 78 76 Eton End School, Datchet 79 143 St Teresa’s RC School, Princes Risborough 80 82 Birkdale School, Sheffield 81 71 Stockport Grammar Junior School 82 92 Highfield School, Maidenhead 83 115=Bootham Junior School, York 84 109=Belmont, Mill Hill Preparatory School, London 85 104 Norwich High School for Girls Junior Dept GDST 86 98= Sheffield High School Junior Dept GDST 87 48= Heathfield Junior School GDST, Pinner 88 144=The Red Maids' Junior School, Bristol 89 112 Stormont School, Potters Bar 90 174=Chethams School of Music, Manchester 91 165 Wimbledon Ursuline Preparatory School 92 133 Beechwood Park School, St Albans 93 - Laxton Junior School, Oundle 94 122= The Peterborough School Preparatory Dept 95 113=Ipswich High School Junior School GDST 96 171 Forest School, Altrincham 97 135=St Helen’s College, Hillingdon 98 90= Waverley School, Wokingham 99 189 Alpha Preparatory School, Harrow 100 168 St Mary’s School, Colchester

KS2, level 5 aggregate (2007-9)

G B G G G G M G G G G G G G G M B M B M G M G G G B M G M M M G M M G M B M G G M M M M M M M M B M

2009

2010

1 2 4 5 8 9 6 11 7 12 10 15 14 13 19 26 20 21 24 34 33 27 25 32 30 17 22 23 28= 46= 60 31 56 51 50 37 48= 83= 73 38= 38= 105 69= 43= 61 107 58

Gender

2009

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

KS2, level 5 aggregate (2007-9)

2010

THE TOP 100 PREP SCHOOLS

The Henrietta Barnett School, London Queen Elizabeth’s School, Barnet The Latymer School, London St Olave’s Grammar School, Orpington Reading School Altrincham Grammar School for Girls Tiffin Girls School, Kingston-upon-Thames Kendrick School, Reading Colchester Royal Grammar School Colyton Grammar School Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham Tiffin School, Kingston-upon-Thames Wilson’s School, Wallington Newstead Wood School for Girls, Orpington King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford Nonsuch High School for Girls, Sutton Dr Challoner’s High School, Amersham King Edward VI Handsworth School, Birmingham Chelmsford County High School for Girls King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls, Birmingham St Michael’s RC Grammar School, Finchley Lumen Christi College, Londonderry Colchester County High School for Girls King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham The Judd School, Tonbridge Sutton Grammar School for Boys Wallington High School for Girls Woodford County High School, Woodford Green Watford Grammar School for Girls Wolverhampton Girls’ High School King Edward VI Five Ways School, Birmingham The Blue Coat School, Liverpool Tonbridge Grammar School Wallington County Grammar School Wycombe High School Tunbridge Wells Girls’ Grammar School Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls Ilford County High School Rugby High School Dame Alice Owen’s School, Potters Bar Beaconsfield High School Newport Girls’ High School Bishop Wordsworth School, Salisbury St Mary’s Grammar School, Magherafelt Altrincham Grammar School for Boys Lancaster Girls’ Grammar School Sutton Coldfield Grammar School for Girls Aylesbury Grammar School Aylesbury High School Westcliff High School for Boys

2010

A strong community: Wycombe Abbey girls famously form friendships for life

1 4 2 12 11 15 7 3 8 6 9 19 5 21 16 14 23 24 22 25 20 17 13 10 27 28 46 18 43 39 30 55 31 56 37 35 29 53 84 38 41 86 63 32 67 26 44= 60 56 65

A-level %A*-B GCSE % A*/A

1 2 3 4 5 6 7= 7= 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39= 39= 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51

KS2, level 4 aggregate (2007-9)

83.7 85.4 78.8 80.6 84.2 78.3 82.4 84.1 79.0 75.0 86.7 82.3 81.6 81.1 80.9 75.3 82.3 80.0 78.1 76.7 74.9 70.4 69.7 72.1 73.1 86.6 73.9 76.3 74.4 77.5 76.5 80.0 63.0 72.7 73.1 68.9 77.0 81.1 71.6 74.9 72.9 70.2 75.1 76.6 79.1 74.8 70.8 69.0 74.4 73.4

2009

90.9 89.7 92.7 91.8 90.0 92.3 90.1 89.0 91.5 93.1 86.8 88.5 88.5 88.7 88.7 91.4 87.9 88.7 88.6 89.3 90.1 92.3 92.5 91.1 90.0 82.9 88.8 87.5 88.4 86.5 86.8 84.9 93.2 88.4 88.1 90.1 86.0 83.8 88.2 86.2 87.3 88.5 85.6 84.9 83.5 85.6 87.1 88.0 85.1 85.5

2009

57 Latymer Upper School, London 33 Hampton School, London 49 St Helen’s School, Northwood 50= University College School, London 61= Dulwich College, London 81 The King’s School, Canterbury 41 Radley College, Abingdon 59 Oundle School, Peterborough 73 Abingdon School 53 Loughborough High School 72 Bancroft’s School, Woodford Green 80 Kingston Grammar School 37= St Albans School 54 City of London Freemen's School, Ashtead 63 Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne 100 King Edward VI School, Southampton 67 Benenden School, Cranbrook 152= Ipswich High School GDST 90 Sir William Perkins’s School, Chertsey 112= The Abbey School, Reading 106 Nottingham Girls’ High School GDST 107 Caterham School 198 Queen Margaret’s School, York 71 St Mary’s School Calne 68= Trinity School, Croydon 45 The Grange School, Hartford 76 Eltham College, London 58 Central Newcastle High School GDST 103=Warwick School 68= Queen’s Gate School, London 119= Burgess Hill School for Girls 60 Rugby School 83 Wellington College, Crowthorne 131= Francis Holland School, Regent's Park 105 Bromley High School GDST 178 Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, Bristol 82 Marlborough College 46= The Queen’s School, Chester 147 Dauntsey’s School, Devizes 84= Queenswood, Hatfield 84= Reigate Grammar School 78= Whitgift School, Croydon 160 Merchant Taylors’ School, Crosby, Liverpool 95 St Peter’s School, York 194 Twycross House School, Atherstone 187 Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls 144=Stockport Grammar School 121= Bristol Grammar School 124 Derby High School 74 Canford School, Wimborne

2010

51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83= 83= 85 86 87 88 89 90= 90= 92 93= 93= 95 96 97 98 99 100

99.3 97.3 98.0 99.1 96.6 97.8 96.5 96.5 96.4 96.4 91.5 95.7 92.5 88.7 93.5 89.4 98.1 90.8 91.6 89.0 87.9 94.1 90.2 92.9 90.7 91.2 87.9 91.3 90.4 85.2 90.5 83.8 87.2 88.4 85.6 87.5 87.5 86.9 85.8 88.9 81.3 88.9 85.0 81.1 86.0 86.9 81.0 88.0 88.6 89.2

2010

99.3 99.7 99.3 98.2 98.3 97.5 97.9 97.7 96.3 96.3 98.5 96.2 96.6 98.2 95.3 97.3 92.9 96.3 95.9 97.0 97.4 94.1 95.9 94.2 95.1 94.6 96.1 94.4 93.1 95.6 92.8 95.1 93.4 92.7 94.1 92.7 92.7 92.7 93.0 91.0 94.3 90.3 91.8 93.5 91.0 90.3 92.8 89.1 88.6 88.3

GCSE % A*/A

Wycombe Abbey School, High Wycombe Magdalen College School, Oxford St Paul’s School, London St Paul’s Girls School, London The North London Collegiate School, Edgware City of London School for Girls Westminster School, London Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls, Elstree Perse Girls/Stephen Perse Sixth Form, Cambridge Withington Girls' School, Manchester Guildford High School for Girls Eton College, Windsor King's College School, Wimbledon Notting Hill and Ealing High School GDST, London James Allen’s Girls’ School, London The Haberdashers' Aske’s Boys’ School, Elstree The Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton The School of St Helen and St Katharine, Abingdon Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood Manchester Grammar School Sevenoaks School Royal Grammar School, Guildford Oxford High School GDST South Hampstead High School GDST, London The Godolphin and Latymer School, London The Cheltenham Ladies’ College Tonbridge School Putney High School GDST, London City of London School St Catherine’s School, Bramley, Guildford King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham King Edward’s School, Birmingham The Perse School, Cambridge St Mary’s School Ascot Harrow School Headington School, Oxford Alleyn’s School, London Manchester High School for Girls St Albans High School for Girls Tormead School, Guildford Brighton College Wimbledon High School GDST The Maynard School, Exeter King’s High School for Girls, Warwick Highgate School, London Downe House, Thatcham Concord College, Shrewsbury St Swithun’s School, Winchester Badminton School, Bristol Channing School, London

A-level %A*-B

8 5 4 6 3 10 2 16 7 1 15 12 13 39 23 17 11 24 26 28 14 9 18 20 31= 21 35= 35= 42= 44 22 40 34 29 31= 52 37= 25 50= 46= 42= 61= 94 78= 64 27 65 30 66 48

2009

1 2= 2= 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16= 16= 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32= 32= 34 35 36= 36= 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49= 49=

2010

Ranking based on 2010 examination results with A*-B grades at A-level double weighted

A-level %A*-B GCSE % A*/A

Ranking based on 2010 examination results with A*-B grades at A-level double weighted 2009

THE TOP 100 STATE SECONDARY SCHOOLS

2010

THE TOP 100 INDEPENDENT SECONDARY SCHOOLS

A-level %A*-B

FRANCESCO GUIDICINI

St Alban’s C of E (Aided) Primary School, Rotherham Woodlea Primary School, Houghton-le-Spring St Osmund's RC Primary School, London Shincliffe C of E (Controlled) Primary School, Durham Woodville Primary School, South Woodham Ferrers Ashdene Primary School, Wilmslow St Edmund Campion RC Primary School, Nottingham William Ransom Primary School, Hitchin Blackrod Primary School, Bolton St Joseph’s RC Junior Infant and Nursery School, Oldham Hall Meadow Primary School, Kettering Oakridge Primary School, Stafford Galley Hill Primary School, Guisborough Pewithall Primary School, Runcorn Scotts Primary School, Hornchurch St Andrew’s C of E VA School, Totteridge Brindishe Lee Primary School, London Oak Cottage Primary School, Solihull St Boniface RC Primary School, Salford Berkswich C of E (VC) Primary School, Stafford St Michael’s RC VA Primary School, Esh Laude Silkstone Common Junior and Infant School, Barnsley Bonner Primary School, London Broughton Jewish Cassel Fox Primary School, Salford SS Philip and James’ C of E VA Primary School, Oxford Westbrook Lane Primary School, Leeds St John Vianney RC Primary School, Newcastle upon Tyne Crowlees C of E VC School, Mirfield St Peter’s RC Primary School, Stalybridge St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Sale Templewood Primary School, Welwyn Garden City St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Bingley St Anne’s C of E Primary School, Bakewell Cookham Dean C of E Primary School, Maidenhead Hursthead Junior School, Cheadle St Bede’s RC Junior School, Widnes Wallace Fields Junior School, Epsom Chilcote Primary School, Birmingham Belmont Primary School, Chiswick St Peter’s C of E VA Aided School, South Weald St Elphin’s (Fairfield) C of E VA Aided School Tickhill Estfeld Primary School, Doncaster St Cuthbert’s RC Primary School, Englefield Green St Patrick’s RC Primary and Nursery School, Mansfield Hatfield Heath Community School, Bishop's Stortford St John’s RC Primary School, Poulton-le-Fylde Cherry Burton C of E VC School, Beverley St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Nottingham Pownall Green Primary School, Stockport Our Lady and St Werburgh's RC School, Newcastle upon Tyne

891 891 891 891 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 890 889 889 889 889 889 888 888 888 888 888 888 888 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 887 886 886


IV

PARENT POWER

Pupils learn how to keep the faith Bathwick St Mary Primary is evangelical about the quality of its teaching, says Judith O’Reilly

I

f pupils at Bathwick St Mary Primary aren’t dressing up in Roman togas, or practising their country dancing, or acting out the Greek drama of Orpheus in the Underworld, they’re pretending to be second world war refugees or making moving monsters with syringes. And along the way they are learning so effectively their results are among the best in the country. Head teacher Kevin Burnett admits the school benefits from a fortunate coincidence of factors which help secure its success and earn it this year’s Sunday Times State Primary School of the Year award. Key are the children, whom Burnett describes as “a wonderful bunch, confident, responsible, open to new ideas, caring of each other, and ready for a challenge”. Located in an affluent residential area on the eastern edge of Bath, the Church of England school pulls in a 224-strong middle-class intake. Only a small number use English as an additional language, few are eligible for free school meals and the number with learning difficulties is well below average. But it’s not just the intake — the school community is united in its faith-based value system, parents are supportive, teachers committed, governors proactive, and the quality of leadership superb. It could be a recipe for an easy life for all concerned, but it is not. Instead the school capitalises on its assets and turns them into educational gold. As Burnett, who has been in the post for a decade, says: “You have to avoid complacency. The children may have different experiences to many but you still have to move them forward so they are challenged and achieve their very best.”

Burnett regularly drops into classes and is evangelical about quality teaching. He holds up the example of one year 6 class during past summer term, led by teacher Vicky Bowman, in which she explored how the children felt about transferring to secondary schools. “Each group was given the task of discovering what they felt uneasy about and coming up with solutions. By the end of that lesson, they felt a lot better because they’d been able to help each other, and they were genuinely looking forward to moving on.” The school could fill its own trophy cabinet with national benchmark awards in arts, ICT, basic skills (English and maths), as well as an Activemark for sports, a regional award for healthy schools, Investors in People and a gold standard children’s Charter Mark which judges how involved pupils are in the decision-making of the school and in taking responsibility. Indeed, the first thing staff are advised when they take up a job at Bathwick St Mary, is to “please listen to the children”. It is an approach which seems to

High-achieving church schools Number in Parent Power top 500 state primary schools

be working, if the results are anything to go by. This year, the school climbed from 19th in our league table to fourth. According to key stage 2 Sats results for the three years between 2007 and 2009, all children achieved level 4 in maths, English and science, while at level 5 they gained a total of 275 out of 300 points across the three subjects. Bathwick St Mary is a state school but these results would put it among the top 30 prep schools in the country. (About a quarter of its children go on to independent schools.) Despite an enviable position at the top of the league tables, Burnett is unconvinced of their value and the school opted out of national Sats this year, preferring to set its pupils past papers moderated with the help of an education consultant. According to the 2010 results (which are not included in our tables), all the children again achieved level 4 in English and 68% level 5, while in maths 97% achieved level 4, and 68% level 5 — and 100% achieved level 4 in science and 79% level 5. It’s hardly surprising that Ofsted inspectors consider the school to be outstanding in terms of overall effectiveness, achievement and standards, personal development and wellbeing of pupils, quality of provision of teaching, and in its learning and management. Tellingly, inspectors attributed much of the quality of education to Burnett’s own “exceptional drive and energy”. Burnett attributes the school’s

137

Church of England

136 Roman Catholic

success to his staff — “without them, it wouldn’t happen” — and a culture of high expectations. “We expect everybody — the children, parents, staff and governors — to give their very best,” he says. Teachers regard planning and lesson structure as a key priority. Year 3, for instance, learn about the Victorians in history, write about them in literacy, and use numeracy skills to work out the timeline of Queen Victoria’s life. Courtesy of a recent outing to SS Great Britain, a steamship designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and housed at the dry dock in Bristol, they absorbed geographical knowledge from studying the charts and maps of the ship’s journeys. They practised literacy skills by writing diaries as if they were passengers, learnt about history and got to grips with the science behind steam engines. The school was established in 1841 and moved to its present site in 1986. Today, it is one of 137 Church of England primary schools in our top 500. There are also 136 Roman Catholic church-aided schools, providing further evidence of the dominance of faith-based schools. The school motto brings together its record of academic achievement with its values — “Achieving excellence through the pursuit of good”, which is appropriate for a faith school. Burnett says: “We don’t stand back from saying we put faith first and it is a very key part of what we do. We take faith seriously.” The children are encouraged to be caring, patient and understanding. Year 6 children volunteer to be “blue hats” to look after youngsters who may be feeling lonely or have friendship issues, and there is a Good Samaritan award for pupils who go out of their way to care for others. As Burnett says: “We celebrate achievement and academic results but what matters every bit as much is that our children leave us as wellrounded individuals on course for happy, fulfilled lives. “I live and breathe this job — it is a privilege because what we are doing here can change a child’s life for the better for ever.”

PHIL YEOMANS

Small wonders: Bathwick St Mary pupils are described as open to new ideas and ready for a challenge


thesundaytimes.co.uk

14.11.10

V

JULIAN ANDREWS

More of the leading universities are taking note of pupils who gain the new A-level grade, says Sian Griffiths

Answer the question It’s time to stop giving bad teachers an easy ride It was reported last week that in the past five years a mere 3,200 teachers have been subject to competency procedures. This represents a tiny fraction of the total number in the teaching profession. Do we assume that we have very few incompetent teachers in our schools? Or, is it that those responsible lack the will to deal with teachers who cannot control their pupils, who fail to prepare lessons, and so on? If it is the latter, what is the solution? Ben Whitmarsh, Shropshire

F

or Cynthia Hall, head teacher at one of the country’s top feepaying girls’ schools, this summer’s A-level results were a surprise. For the first time, students’ marks included a new starred level, designed to help universities identify the strongest candidates from the soaring numbers winning A grades. To gain the new A*, pupils had to score 90% in papers taken in the second year of A-levels. Hall, head teacher at Wycombe Abbey, where boarding fees are £29,250 a year, had predicted that about a third of her girls’ papers would score an A* grade. When the results were announced in August, however, more than half had been marked at the new top level. “We were very pleased, of course,” she said last week. “We had made our predictions based on the girls’ mock exam results and they turned out to be an underestimate. And we are pleased to have the new grade because there were far too many top-batch students applying for the best universities and the universities were finding it difficult to differentiate. Two years ago there was a lottery feel to the admissions process.” In the first year of the new grade the best private schools have already notched up astonishingly high numbers of A*s. The national average for such grades this summer was just 8.1% — or one in 12 of A-level entries — but at St Paul’s School for boys in London, 53.6% of A-levels were graded A*, at Wycombe Abbey it was 51.3% and, at St Paul’s Girls’ School, 49.4%. Our league table, right, shows the 10 schools with the highest A* scores. Not one state school makes the cut — Henrietta Barnett School in north London, where more than a third (39.3%) of papers were graded A*, is the highest ranked state school in 11th position. Last year most universities except Cambridge (where the standard offer is now A*AA) and Imperial College London shied away from relying on the A* grade. This year, however, about 10 universities, including University College London, Bath, Imperial and Warwick, are expected to ask students to score at least one A* to secure their degree places. Hall says that so far this year Bath University has made an offer based on achieving A* AA at A-level next summer

The sky’s the limit: Reading School students show head teacher John Weeds, second right, their observatory telescope

The new A-level stars to two Wycombe Abbey sixth-formers who have applied to read engineering. UCL has made a similar offer to a pupil who wants to study mathematics, while Warwick has asked another of Hall’s pupils for two A*s and an A to secure her place on a maths and philosophy course. At Cambridge, Geoff Parks, director of admissions, an enthusiastic supporter of the reform, admits that for three candidates last year the bar was set even higher. “We got flak and landed on the front pages of newspapers for asking three applicants to score three A*s at A-level — two made it, one declined the offer,” he recalls. This year, Parks thinks, there may be more such offers. Despite admitting to being a little shocked when he found out what was being demanded of him, 19-year-old Peter Draper, a former pupil of the fee-paying Warwick School and one of the three students who was asked for three A* grades by Cambridge, buckled down to revising seven hours a day. Currently on a gap year working at Rolls-Royce, he is due to take up a place studying engineering at Christ’s College, Cambridge, next autumn after scoring three A*s in maths, further maths and physics, and an A in chemistry. “I was a bit sceptical at first about the offer, it seemed a bit steep, but then I

thought that it was attainable with hard work — and in the end I made it. I think the A* is a good thing,” Draper says. “My dad went to Cambridge with an A and two Bs, that was the top then, and now there are so many people getting three As, the A-level has been devalued. The A* gives people something to aim at again.” But not everyone has welcomed the

The top 10 schools 1 2 3 4 5 6

St Paul’s 53.6%* Wycombe Abbey 51.3% St Paul’s Girls’ 49.4% City of London for Girls 47.3% Westminster School 47.1% Guildford High School for Girls 42.9% 7 North London Collegiate 42.7% 8 Haberdashers Aske’s Boys 40.4% 9 St Helen and St Katharine 39.9% 10 Haberdashers Aske’s School for Girls 39.6% * % of A* grades at A-level 2010

reform. Anthony Seldon, headmaster at Wellington College, says: “I think more universities are going to make A* offers this year and it troubles me greatly.” Seldon cites his son Adam’s experience as an example of how the new grade is skewing pupils’ exam choices, in his view, in a deleterious fashion. Last year, halfway through the upper sixth at Wellington, Adam Seldon dropped his fourth A-level, in English, to maximise his chances of scoring two A* grades (which he did) in his philosophy, history and politics A-levels. His father predicts that this year, more students will follow Adam’s lead. “This year pupils under pressure to get A* grades will go down to three A-levels like Adam. He was so stressed. It’s anti-educational to drop from four to three A-levels.” In the end, of course, the new A* grade will probably just replace the old A grade. Hall says she expects that the standard offer from Cambridge will eventually become two A* grades and an A, “a bit like the old two As and a B offer the university used to make”. Seldon agrees. “The grade inflation is already happening. The only question is how long it will be before the government has to create the A** grade at A-level. My guess is we’ll be seeing it by 2020.”

It is a failure of will at every level in the system, from successive secretaries of state down. The obvious solution is to bring back the inspection regime we had in the 1990s. Every teacher should be observed teaching and graded. There should be an expectation that the head teacher takes steps to improve the performance of every teacher who receives an unsatisfactory grade. If the incompetence continues, the head teacher should be held to account. Michael Gove, the current education secretary, is conducting a review of the Office for Standards in Education. He has the chance to solve one of the most serious problems in education today. My daughter is a straight-A student, wanting to do sciences at university. We have a school locally that is in the third year of offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) and my daughter is keen on studying for this. I understand that the previous government wanted to have a state school in every education authority offering the IB. Do you think the IB is something that my daughter should look at? Or, with the change of government, should she stick with A-levels? Sharon Dowds, Brighton The IB is a serious and well-respected qualification. It is intellectually demanding and most suited, therefore, to academically able students. Sixth-formers who wish to specialise in particular subjects will find the A-level curriculum more

CHRIS WOODHEAD

attractive because the IB demands a breadth of study across maths and science, foreign languages, the arts and social studies. University admissions tutors understand the demands of the IB, though there have been reports that the points score required for IB students compared with A-level students is higher than it should be. It is important also to check that your daughter’s school has trained its staff properly. Some schools have rushed in without proper preparation and students have suffered. My daughter wishes to take A-levels in French, German and a choice from biology, economics or business studies. My concern is that the Russell Group of universities does not regard the last two subjects as being rigorously academic. Which subjects do you advise her to study? Michael Brill, Middlesex Economics and business studies are both respectable subjects. However, the London School of Economics specifies business studies (along with film, media and sports studies) as a “non-preferred” subject. Two languages plus economics would make a coherent package for your daughter. Chris Woodhead, former chief inspector of schools, is chairman of the private schools group Cognita. If you have a question, please write to him c/o The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London E98 1ST or email him, with your name and address, at education-questions@sunday-times.co.uk


VI

THE SUNDAY TIMES

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14.11.10


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