A Levels: Will state schools continue to close the gap?

Henry Stewart's picture
A level results are due out tomorrow and hundreds of thousands of students will be nervously awaiting the results of their hard work over the last two years.

When reporting the results, newspapers often carry comparisons of performance between the private and state sector. So I thought it timely to reproduce my figures from last year. Overall students at private schools do better (not surprising, given the more privileged intake), but the gap is closing:

Students Achieving A*/A: Gap Closing 2010 to 2012

The % achieving A or A* fell last year in both sectors but between 2010 and 2012 the proportion of state school students achieving A or A* rose slightly, while the proportion achieving A or A* fell:

% of students achieving A*/A 
           State           Private          Gap


Students Achieving A*/A/B: Gap Closing 2010 to 2012

The same is true for the figures for A* to B, where achievement in state schools rose by 1.4% pts, while falling in private schools.

% of students achieving A*/A/B 
           State           Private          Gap


A full comparison of the performance of state and private schools would need to analyse how similar students performed. The data does not exist to do this on a national scale but I showed here how one state school (Stoke Newington) outperformed Wellington College, when a similar cohort was used - based on Key Stage 2 results at age 11.


Data Sources: Joint Qualifications Board

2010 figures:
2011 figures:
2012 figures

Figures for the state sector include comprehensive schools, academies, grammar schools, secondary moderns and FE/sixth forms. JCQ produced figures for each type of school in 2010 and 2011 but produced only one combined state sector figure for 2012.

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