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ISC Year 11 Exam Results 2015

Nearly a third of entries by independent school pupils awarded A* grades, compared to 7% nationally.

Posted on: 29 Aug 2015
Categories: Exams
  • Nearly a third of entries by independent school pupils awarded A* grades, compared to 7% nationally.
  • IGCSE’s continue to increase in popularity and more than four in every ten exam entries are for IGCSE rather than GCSE.
  • A high proportion of exam entries from pupils at independent schools in the North have achieved the A* or A grade, bucking national trends that show students in the North performed significantly worse in the top grades than those in London.
  • Nearly two thirds of entries by independent school pupils awarded A* and A grades, compared to 21% nationally.

View Exam Results 2015 data

Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools candidates have achieved the very top grades in this year’s GCSE results.

32.9% of entries by independent school pupils have been awarded A* grades, compared to 6.6% nationally. That’s a total of 129,680 entries.

60.8% of entries by independent school pupils awarded A* and A grades, compared to 21.2% nationally. That’s a total of 239,733 entries.


At ISC schools the trend continues of increasing numbers of pupils choosing to take the IGCSE rather than the GCSE.

This year 43.3% of Year 11 exam entries were for IGCSEs. ISC schools reported 170,839 IGCSEs taken by their pupils, up from 152,170 last year.

This represents a 12.3% increase on last year. The growing uptake of the IGCSE has been a feature for a number of years: in 2010, only 11.1% of Year 11 exam entries were for IGCSEs. This year 446 schools had pupils taking at least one IGCSE. 3 schools offered IGCSE only.


Pupils at ISC schools took fewer GCSEs this year: 223,406 down from 241,181 in 2014. 3 schools offered no GCSE’s (IGCSE’s only).

GCSE and IGCSE results combined

The results are from 560 ISC schools, representing 394,245 entries from 41,134 candidates. The aggregate data, for both GCSE and IGCSE combined, show that candidates in ISC schools took an average of 9.6 subjects each, and:

32.9% of all exam entries received the A* grade, versus 32.7% last year. The national average was 6.6%, versus 6.7% in 2014.

60.8% were graded A* or A, versus 60.6% in 2014. The national average was 21.2%, versus 21.3% in 2014.

94.5% were graded A* to C, versus 94.4% in 2014. Nationally, 69.0% were graded A* to C, versus 68.8% last year).

90.1% achieved five or more A* to C grades including maths and English (national figures for 2015 are not yet available, but in 2014 the national figure was 56.8%). 76.2% of ISC pupils this year achieved five or more A* to C grades including Maths, English, a Science and a Modern Foreign Language.

In 169 ISC schools (30.2% of the total), every pupil achieved five or more A* to C grades. In a further 146 schools (a further 26.1% of the total) 95% or more of pupils achieved this standard.

For ISC schools as a whole, the figures show that candidates achieved an average total of 480.1 points – approximately equivalent to a nine subject result of 2 A*s and 7 As – and an average subject entry result of 50.1 points, which is closer to an A than a B.

Regional variations

  • Nationally, 18% of entries in the North East were awarded A or A*. In London it was 25%.
  • Results for GCSEs at ISC schools show that 56% of GCSE entries in the North were A or A*.

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman, Independent Schools Council (ISC), said:

“It is impressive that nearly a third of entries by independent school pupils were awarded A* grades, compared to 7% nationally. This is an extraordinary achievement and is testament to the excellent teaching and high aspiration in our schools.

“IGCSE’s continue to increase in popularity, comprising nearly 40% of entries this year. Independent schools value the freedom to offer both the IGCSE and the GCSE as they think best for their pupils. We also welcome the new reformed GCSEs as schools begin teaching them this September.”

Julie Robinson, General Secretary, ISC, said:

“ISC pupils achieved a high proportion of the top grades in the traditional subjects such as Maths, separate Sciences and Modern Foreign Languages. Many pupils will continue with these subjects at A-level and then university.

“These results further underline the important contribution that ISC schools make to UK education."

Case Studies

1. The Perse School – the school with over a thousand A* grades.

Perse students have achieved over 1,100 A * grades to achieve the School’s best ever GCSE and IGCSE results.

More than half the year group achieved eight or more As and just under 30% gained ten or more A grades. 94% of the entries were graded A* or A.

At The Perse School, where 154 candidates sat 1,567 exams, pupils follow international GCSE (IGCSE) courses in biology, chemistry, English language, English literature, French, German, history, mathematics, physics, religious studies and Spanish.

The school also prepare students for GCSE in ancient history, art and design, Chinese, classical Greek, design and technology, geography, Italian, Japanese, Latin, music and Russian.

The Perse aims to give its students the best possible education. To this end heads of department select the exam board and qualification which they consider offers the most stimulating and rigorous programme of learning and is the best preparation for higher level study in their subject.

Head, Ed Elliott, commented:

“No one qualification or exam board is best in all subjects. Independent schools, free from government control, can evaluate the full range of qualifications and courses available and allow teachers who know both their subject and their pupils well to select the qualification which will provide the best possible education.

“This bespoke approach improves pupils’ learning and engagement, which in turn leads to higher levels of attainment.

“Teachers appreciate the professional freedom to make considered curriculum decisions in the best interests of their pupils and their subject, and to design stimulating and rigorous courses accordingly.

“Our approach seems to be working; The Perse has improved its I/GCSE results in each of the last three years and in 2015 over 94% of entries were graded A* or A including more than 1100 A* grades.”

Paul Baker, Deputy Head Curriculum, added:

“The IGCSEs that some departments have chosen suit our students’ progression needs better.

“For example, the mathematics IGCSE contains more introductory calculus and work on functions which prepares students well for A level. The science IGCSEs mesh well with The Perse’s long standing practical approach to teaching science, where students are able to carry out hands-on experiments in most lessons.”

Contact: Naomi Penny-Larter, Marketing & Communications Officer: NPennyLarter@Perse.co.uk

2. Success in International GCSEs at King Edward’s School, Birmingham

Boys at King Edward’s School, Birmingham are celebrating after achieving excellent GCSE results. Out of a year group of 119, 22 boys achieved 10 As, a further 25 achieved 9 As and 72 boys achieved only A*s and As.

Overall, the percentage of A* grades attained was 66% and 88% A*/A.

The school has been doing IGCSE Maths and science for over a decade and IGCSE English Language and English Literature for over 5 years as well as History, Geography and Music.

John Claughton, Chief Master of King Edward’s School, said:

“I am delighted with the results that boys have achieved this year. This is the third exceptional year at GCSE with an average over the three years of close to 70% A* and 90% A*/A.

“At King Edward’s, we have committed ourselves to an independent and rigorous education – with almost all of our GCSEs being IGCSEs.

“We believe the content of iGCSEs is more challenging and is much better preparation for the IB Diploma taken by all our boys. IGCSE does not waste time on coursework and controlled assessment tasks which consume valuable teaching time.

“Our boys have done better in IGCSE in recent times precisely because it has asked harder questions and rewards understanding. Each year a new subject crosses over to IGCSE when it can and no one ever talks of going back so that proves our belief in it.

“We provide a different and truly challenging education and believe that it is paying dividends for the School and the boys.”

King Edward’s School is an independent day school with 850 boys aged 11-18. The School reflects the diverse mix of the city itself and attracts pupils from all of Birmingham and beyond.


The School is committed to being accessible to all bright boys, whatever their background. Not only are there academic and music scholarships, but also an Assisted Places scheme which provides means-tested support with fees. In Year 7, a quarter of boys are on Assisted Places and the majority of those are free places.

Contact: Danielle Spittle, Director of Marketing and Communications: 0121 415 6076, dps@kes.org.uk

3. High achieving school bucks national trend for poorer performance in the North

Over half of entries at Newcastle High School for Girls GDST have achieved A* and A grades.

Five girls gained ten A* grades and 48 girls achieved eight or more A*s.

Hilary French, headmistress, said:

“The girls at NHSG have performed spectacularly well at GCSE and have contributed significantly to the overall performance of the North East, where the highest number of GCSE passes in the country has been reported.

“We have a catchment of around 30 miles around the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and despite the fact that the region as a whole still faces questions on the grades achieved at GCSE, NHSG has celebrated an exceptionally high number of grades at A* and A.

“As an independent girls’school, I believe it is our ethos, as well as our approach to teaching and learning, that empowers our pupils.

“At NHSG, we do more than deliver the examination syllabus. We ensure our whole environment is academically stimulating so that we build on the girls’ natural intellectual curiosity and love of learning from a young age.”

Pupil Case Study:

16 year old Tiya Pabury from Newcastle was among the region’s top performing pupils at GCSE. Tiya achieved ten straight A* grades. She is now considering a career in Medicine and will be embarking on A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Maths, alongside Spanish at Newcastle School for Girls.

Tiya said:

“I was so nervous when I opened my results envelope. I was aiming high and had been predicted good grades but I didn’t expect to get all A*s. My first reaction was relief! I am so very thankful to be at Newcastle High: the support we get is amazing.

“I have already gained work experience in two hospitals and volunteered at a local hospice. I really like the fact that as a doctor you can both interact with people and help them at the same time.”

Contact: Janice Graves, Director of Marketing: 0191 201 6512, J.Graves@ncl.gdst.net

4. Bursary school Christ’s Hospital once again achieves excellent results at GCSE.

70.1% of all grades were at A* or A, 91.0% of grades were A* – B and the overall pass rate was 99.9%.

Two pupils gained 12 A* grades, three gained 11 A* grades, three gained 10 A* grades. Eight of the pupils taking Mandarin pupils gained A* grade;

Christ’s Hospital in Horsham, founded in 1552, provides life-changing educational opportunities for boys and girls, whatever their background. Currently over 80% of the pupils at Christ’s Hospital near Horsham receive a bursary, with 40% paying less than 10% of the full boarding fee.

The bursary scheme enables the school to offer children with academic potential, from all over the country and from some very disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to experience a first rate boarding school education, enriching the social and cultural diversity of the school community.

Pupil case study

Dani Heath, from Crawley, West Sussex, a full boarder at the school on a 90% bursary and scholarship, has achieved ten GCSEs at A* and A grades. Dani is an all-round pupil, getting involved in many different aspects of school life including the hockey squad, Model United Nations and the CCF.

Dani Heath said:

"I was completely enthralled when I found out my results; I'd hoped for all As and A*s but knew that I'd really have to push myself to achieve such high standards, however it's extremely rewarding knowing that all my hard work has paid off.

“Christs Hospital has really given me the opportunity to flourish and grow both as a student and a person; I've just returned from a six week leadership course in Canada, as a part of the cadet programme run at CH. To return to such incredible results has really made this summer the best yet and I'm so thankful for all the support given to me in all areas of my life at CH.

“After CH I'm hoping to study something such as International Relations, Law or Philosophy, Politics and Economics at a top university. My love for politics and debating has definitely stemmed from partaking in the Model United Nations team at Christ's Hospital”

Head Master, John Franklin, said:

“I fully recognise the hard work that lies behind these superb results both on the part of the pupils and their teachers, and I congratulate them on their achievements.

“The ethos at Christ’s Hospital is to ensure that each pupil achieves his or her very best. Our pupils come from all over the UK and overseas, as well as from every kind of background. We enable those pupils from all walks of life to reach their full academic potential and the School’s results are testament to this.”

Contact: Carol Blackwell: 01403 247594, carol.blackwell@christs-hospital.org.uk


Press queries

For more information, please contact: Tracy Cook, Head of Press, Independent Schools Council.
020 7766 7062 (office)
07825 806017 (out of hours)

Notes to editors:

Year 11 exam results

Results from ISC schools include IGCSE as well as GCSE. ISC continues to believe that there are no grounds for the separation of performance of the IGCSE from the GCSE.

Points totals are included for each school, based on the tariff A*=58, A=52, B=46, C=40, D=34, E=28, F=22, G=16, U=0.

View Exam Results 2015 data

A final database of all results (taking into account re-marks and additional returns) will be issued in December.

Independent Schools Council

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together seven associations of independent schools, their Heads, bursars and governors. These collectively represent nearly 1,300 independent schools in the UK and overseas, educating more than half a million children each year.