Daily News Summary
27 August 2019

image A-level results 2019: ISC research
image Independent schools' A-level results 2019: Press coverage
image Private school students 'penalised' by Oxbridge quotas
image Letters: IGCSEs in independent schools
image Reports finds 'no merit' in abolishing private schools
image Warning over impact of 'crippling pension costs' on independent schools
image Councils warn of 'looming school places crisis'
image Book review: The Making of Her

A-level results 2019: ISC research


Results data published on Saturday by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show one in 14 candidates achieved three or more A* grades, with the proportion of entries achieving A* standing at more than twice the national average.

In total, 498 schools in membership of ISC associations submitted details. Other headline figures show:

  • The percentage of entries getting an A* at A-level is 17.2%, more than twice that of the national average, which is 7.8%
  • There was an increase in candidates taking the EPQ (+13.3%), Pre-U (+6.7%), and BTEC (+17%) qualifications compared to last year
  • The average points score for pupils taking the IB Diploma was 36, roughly equivalent to 4.5 As at A-level. Over a third of pupils gaining the IB Diploma obtained 39 points or more

Independent schools' A-level results 2019: Press coverage


The Times reports that reforms to A-levels have triggered a rise in practical qualifications, and features a case study of a BTEC student at Millfield School. By Rosemary Bennett. A further article in The Times welcomes the move towards vocational qualifications, saying "a culture shift towards practicalities is sorely needed". By Martha Gill.

The Telegraph reports the gap between independent and state school pupils achieving top A-level grades is at its narrowest in a decade. By Camilla Turner. The paper has also compiled an interactive league table of results. Daily Mail also reports on the narrowing gap between state and independent schools' results. By Eleanor Harding. Mike Buchanan, director of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, is quoted.

The majority of the articles above quote Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the ISC.

Private school students 'penalised' by Oxbridge quotas


Andrew Halls, head of King's College School in Wimbledon, has criticised Oxford and Cambridge universities, claiming 'unofficial quotas' for state school pupils unfairly limit the amount of independent school students admitted to the institutions. By Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times.

This topic was discussed on the Today programme yesterday, with contributions from Mr Halls and Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter. The discussion commences at 2:36:17.

Letters: IGCSEs in independent schools


The Guardian features two letters on the topic of IGCSEs. Ewan Drysdale, head of chemistry at Kimbolton School, challenges claims the domestic GCSE is harder than the IGCSE, adding independent schools opt for IGCSEs to ensure students sit qualifications that 'meet their needs for A-levels'. The letter is the second featured on the page.

Christine Ă–zden, CEO of Cambridge Assessment International Education, describes claims IGCSEs unfairly advantage private school pupils as "misleading", adding 'universities are well used to interpreting the different grade systems used in different countries'. Tes.

An editorial piece featured in The Guardian expresses concern over allegations independent school pupils take 'easier' qualifications, and calls on universities to 'give reasoning behind their decision to treat IGCSEs as if they are equal to the new GCSEs'.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the ISC, outlines nine key points to remember about IGCSEs and explains why independent schools choose to offer them.

Report finds 'no merit' in abolishing private schools


Academics at the University of Stirling have published an essay outlining how proposals to integrate independent schools into the state sector could 'increase, not decrease, the inequalities that exist in the educational system'. By Marc Horne, The Times.

The Times

Warning over impact of 'crippling pension costs' on independent schools


Unions have warned private schools facing 'crippling costs' under the Teachers' Pension Scheme may have to increase fees or risk losing teachers. By Ben Wilkinson, Daily Mail.

Daily Mail

Councils warn of 'looming school places crisis'


The Local Government Association has called for councils to be able to force academies and free schools to expand in response to increasing demand for school places. By John Roberts, Tes.


Book review: The Making of Her


Gwen Byrom, a headteacher and former president of the Girls' School Association, reviews "The Making of Her", a book written by Clarissa Farr, a former independent school head. Tes.



The Independent Schools Council (ISC) monitors the national and educational press in order to keep independent schools up-to-date with relevant education news. The DNS is a service primarily for schools in membership of ISC associations, although other interested parties can choose to sign-up. We endeavour to include relevant news and commentary and, wherever possible, notable public letters. Where capacity allows, we may include links to ISC blogs, press statements and information about school or association events. News stories are selected based on their relevance to the independent sector as a whole. Editorial control of the DNS remains solely with the ISC.

Sign-up to the email service is available on our website.

Members can contact the ISC if they know in advance of news, letters or opinions that are likely to feature in the media, or are aware of existing coverage which they would like to see featured in the DNS.

Headlines and first-line summaries are written by the ISC with the link directing to the source material. You should read and comply with the terms and conditions of the websites to which we link.