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ISC Year 13 Exam Results 2014

Significant rise in numbers of pupils achieving three A* grades or more.

Posted on: 23 Aug 2014
Categories: Exams

The numbers of pupils achieving three or more A* grades at A-level has increased by 22% from last year.

One in fourteen candidates at an ISC independent school now achieve three or more A* grades.

The number of candidates achieving three or more A* grade rises to 7.1% (up from 5.8% last year).

A total of 2,333 candidates achieved three A* grades, compared to 1,891 last year.

View Exam Results 2014 data

Other Key findings:

  • The percentage of A-level entries awarded A* from pupils at independent schools has increased to 19.2%, up from 18.0% last year.
  • An entry from a girl at an independent school is more likely to win an A, but boys are more likely to achieve three As.
  • More than half of independent school entries are awarded either A* or A grade at A-level.


This year’s A-level exam results from 33,044 candidates at 475 Independent Schools Council (ISC) schools show that 19.2% of entries from ISC pupils were awarded the grade A, up from last year (18.0% in 2013). This compares to a national average of 8.2% (7.6% in 2013).*

The proportion of entries from ISC pupils achieving at least an A grade was 50.5% (51.3% in 2013); nationally 26.0% of entries were awarded at least an A (26.3% in 2013).

A* grade

7.1% of ISC candidates (2,333 pupils) were awarded three or more A grades.* 7.6% of boys and 6.5% of girls were awarded three or more A*s.

454 schools submitted A-level and/or Pre-U results to ISC in both 2013 and 2014. At these schools, 1,888 candidates received three or more A* grades in 2013, while 2,311 candidates received three or more A* grades in 2014. Pre-U grades of D2 and above have been taken to be the equivalent of A. This represents a 22% increase in the number of candidates securing three or more A grades.


An entry from a girl at an independent school is more likely to win an Aor A grade, but boys are more likely to achieve three As.

19.42% of entries from girls were awarded an A* (nationally 7.9%) 52.02% of entries from girls were awarded an A or A* (nationally 26.2%) 18.89% of entries from boys were awarded an A* (nationally 8.5%) 49.01% of entries from boys were awarded an A or A* (nationally 25.7%)

GCE A-level

33,044 pupils, representing 93.85% of the Year 13 ISC cohort, at 475 schools, took at least one A-level; 19.15% [2013: 18.02%] of entries (19,626) were awarded the top A* grade (national average 8.2% [2013 7.6%]); 50.50% [2013: 51.30%] of entries (51,744) were graded A* or A (national average 26.0% [2013: 26.3 %]); 99.23% [2013: 99.41%] of all entries (101,675 out of 102,460 received pass (A*-E) grades (national average 98.0% [2013: 98.1%]).

Other Qualifications

Pupils at ISC schools take a range of different qualifications. This year ISC has published results from a total of 490 schools, revealing information relating to the following qualifications:


1,376 pupils (3.91% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 44 schools, took at least one Pre-U. Between them, they took a total of 2,072 Pre-Us. In 2013, 1,201 pupils at 41 schools took a total of 1,823 Pre-Us.

International Baccalaureate (IB)

1,909 pupils (5.42% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 59 schools, took IB exams. In 2013, 1,908 pupils at 61 schools took IB exams.


531 pupils (1.51% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 50 schools, took at least one BTEC. In 2013, 455 pupils at 38 schools took at least one BTEC.

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

2,886 pupils (8.20% of the Year 13 ISC cohort), at 264 schools, took the EPQ. In 2013, 2,345 pupils at 222 schools took the EPQ.

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

“Independent schools can be very proud of their pupils’ excellent exam results, with more than half of their A-levels being graded A* or A, nearly double the national figure. What is remarkable is the number of candidates achieving three or more A* grades, which has increased to 7.1% this year, up from 5.8% last year. This is an impressive rise.

“Furthermore, independent schools continue to be strong in Modern Languages and a high proportion of the independent schools A-levels will have been in the traditional subjects such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology. Many top university departments offering these subjects are dependent on independent school pupils for the quality of applicants they seek.

“This reflects pupils’ hard work and dedication and the exceptional level of teaching and support in independent schools. ISC includes a wide range of schools, both selective and non-selective, but all provide young people with a bespoke education. Alongside a strong set of A-level results, schools have shown a rise in the take-up of alternatives including, the IB, Pre-U and the Extended Project Qualification.”

Case Studies

1. Nearly a quarter of pupils at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School score three or more A grades*

Thirty five pupils at the high performing boys’ school in Hertfordshire have scored three A* grades in this year’s A-level results, or 22.4% of students.

Twelve pupils have scored four A* grades.

The majority of the schools’ students go onto prestigious Russell group universities including 36 pupils who have achieved places at Oxford and Cambridge.

Peter Hamilton, Headmaster, said:

“We are absolutely delighted with these impressive results and all credit must go to the boys and staff involved. It is a testament to their hard work and dedication and is a real achievement.”

2. Freedom to choose the best qualifications for pupils.

Why Oundle School offers the Pre-U. Oundle School has offered the Cambridge Pre-U since its inception in 2008. Each year there are around 200 entries for the qualification in nine academic subjects; Chemistry, Chinese, Economics, English Literature, German, History, History of Art, Italian and Physics.

In some cases it is offered alongside the A-level course and in other cases, as an alternative. In addition to both A- levels and the Pre-U, all Lower Sixth pupils are required to choose from a range of Extension Courses, designed to encourage intellectual curiosity and develop independent research skills. Around half of the year group usually enter the AQA Extended Project Qualification.

Mr Ben Evans, Director of Studies, commented:

“Our philosophy of education in the Sixth Form is driven by learning rather than by assessment. We believe that in general, pupils are best placed to be successful in examinations at the end of two years of study, by which time they will have gained a thorough appreciation, understanding and interest in their chosen subjects.

“While some subjects are emphatically more ‘modular’ than others, we feel that compartmentalisation of knowledge can be unhelpful in some cases. Links between certain subject areas are best made via a clear build-up of ideas and this is achieved more effectively with a linear approach.

“Elements of the Pre-U school pupils particularly well in the skills of independent research and thus prepare them well for university work. The Pre-U also offers pupils a chance to secure a ‘D1’ grade, which is above the A* at A Level. Over twenty D1 grades have been achieved at Oundle in both 2013 and 2014; these pupils would not have been recognised in this manner were they to be assessed via an A- level.”

3. Making the student stand out - EPQ numbers rise at Wolverhampton Grammar School.

With even more pupils taking the Extended Project Qualification, or EPQ, this year and many achieving outstanding grades, schools believe the qualification helps students stand out. Pupils can choose their own subject for this 5,000 word essay and carry out research under their own initiative, as it is not taught as part of the school curriculum.

At Wolverhampton Grammar School, EPQ topics included the ethics and practical considerations of changing organ donation legislation: the little Ice Age in Great Britain; Roman and Greek sporting legacies and pupils have designed and built a half size working trebuchet, or catapult, from the Middle Ages.

While the EPQ does not usually form part of the university offer, universities do recognise the extra depth of study these projects involve and it can contribute to the overall points score awarded to candidates.

This year, around 80% of sixth form pupils at Wolverhampton Grammar School completed both the Extended Project Qualification, as part of their AQA Baccalaureate (AQA Bacc) which also includes service in their community. With an overall A- level pass rate of 99% and over 40% of those pupils achieving the coveted A* or A grade at A-level, neither detracts from the hard work put into A-levels.

Head, Kathy Crewe-Read, says:

“The EPQ provides students with the opportunity to build valuable research and writing skills and to undertake a process of critical thinking on a subject of their choice.

“Our pupils have thrived on this challenge, particularly as they are working under their own initiative. Pupils love to learn and the art of pulling together coherent ideas from sometimes vast swathes of facts and figures on a subject of their choice is an experience that brings a different dimension to learning."

4. Top bursary school achieves excellent results

Bursary school Christ’s Hospital once again achieves excellent results at A-level. An impressive 82% of all grades at A Level were A*-B, with over one-third of the students gaining three A grades or better.

Christ’s Hospital in Horsham, founded in 1552, provides life-changing educational opportunities for boys and girls, whatever their background. 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 and enriching the social and cultural diversity of the school community.

Judean Brew, aged 18, from Leyton, E10

Judean Brew joined Christ’s Hospital as a full boarder at the age of 11 (Year 7) – seven years later she is about to step out into the world to read Accounting and Finance at Loughborough, her first choice university. She is the first person in her family to attend an independent school and although she missed her mum and three older siblings whilst boarding, she felt the opportunities at Christ’s Hospital were too good to miss.

Judean says being at Christ’s Hospital is like having “two homes”; the opportunities have been “unbelievable, particularly the singing lessons.” Judean passed her grade 8 Classical Singing exam whilst at school, never having experienced singing in a choir before.

What she will most miss about Christ’s Hospital, she says, “definitely St Matthew’s Day when the school parades through the City to commemorate its founding and also Christmas, which is truly amazing with a magical Carol Service and then back to house with friends!”

Romily Manetta-Wheeler, aged 18, from Portslade, Brighton

Romily’s confirmation to read Philosophy at UCL came as a result of her A level grades - English A, Philosophy A and History A. She’s the first in her family to go to both an independent school and to university. Romily attended a local primary school before Christ’s Hospital and felt very fortunate to be awarded a boarding place. She also participated in music and sport whilst at school, being a member of the orchestra and achieving grade 8 on a violin which was lent to her.

Christ’s Hospital is confident that it will continue to maintain its proud tradition of sending the majority of its leavers to top universities in the UK and abroad.

The Head Master, John Franklin, congratulated the students and their teachers on these results,

“We have a good record of attainment at Christ’s Hospital and this is another pleasing set of results. We’re delighted that the hard work of the pupils and staff has paid off so handsomely.”

(Contact: Carol Blackwell 01403 247593 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), or email tracy.cook@isc.co.uk

Notes to editors:

Year 13 exam results

ISC provides data on the achievements of year 13 pupils (upper-sixth formers) including grades by entry at GCE A-level; AS-level examinations not taken at full A-level; and Pre-U, International Baccalaureate (IB), BTEC and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Data for Applied and Non-Applied subjects are given in aggregate form at A-level and AS-Level.

There is no aggregation of grade information into UCAS points.

View Exam Results 2014 data

Value-added contribution to GDP

Recent studies have highlighted the link between educational performance and economic output at a national level. Applying these studies to the performance of pupils at ISC schools in Britain results in an estimated additional annual contribution to GDP of £1.0 billion. Scaling up for the entire independent sector produces an estimated additional annual contribution to GDP of £1.3 billion.

View Economic Impact Report 2014

Independent Schools Council

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) brings together seven associations of independent schools, their Heads, bursars and governors. These collectively represent over 1,200 independent schools in the UK and overseas, educating more than half a million children each year.