Research shows children at independent schools achieve higher GCSE grades | Portsmouth High School

Research shows children at independent schools achieve higher GCSE grades

Last week research by Durham University was published which claimed that children at independent schools were likely to gain at least two thirds of a grade more in GCSEs than those in maintained sector schools. Subjects where gains were greatest were in geography, history and French. These results took other impact factors into account such as home environment.

Buried in the report was also the claim that achievement on leaving primary school had a bearing on achievement at GCSE. In other words children who did well in their primary schooling were more likely to achieve the best grades at GCSE. At PHS we recognise the importance of excellence in early education and therefore provide specialist teaching which helps develop a curiosity for learning throughout the junior school.

Also deep in the report which admittedly came with a caveat that the data set was relatively small was the evidence that children at single sex schools achieve better results than those in a co-educational environment. Last week at form captains’ lunch year 7 said without prompting that they enjoyed mixing with other children out of school, for example, on the journey by train to school but really valued being in lessons with only girls. They genuinely enthused about our environment – liking the trust we place upon them and the way the school encourages a widening interest in their studies through projects such as the recent task about a bridge to the Isle of Wight.


Whilst it is reassuring that PHS adds academic value and some of it immeasurable it is important to remember that school is not just about examination grades. We pride ourselves on all the extras that go with our education such as a wide and extensive extra-curricular provision and opportunities such as the GDST netball tournament at Condover Hall in Shrewsbury this weekend. Through form captains’ lunch and the upper sixth dinner this weekend the girls have the chance to respond to a formal invitation and experience some of the type of events that will be part of their adult life.

I remember an old girl reminiscing about Miss Thorn – a formidable former Headmistress of PHS – and that alumna being eternally grateful that on being accepted to Oxford Miss Thorn took it upon herself to teach her pupil about formal occasions and invited her, at Miss Thorn’s own expense, for evening meals where Miss Thorn explained the menu and etiquette of formal dining. We don’t perhaps need to do that anymore but we do need to ensure the girls make the most of all their opportunities so they leave us confident and self-assured whatever the situation they find themselves in.