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The best state schools have pulled ahead of private schools. Why is that so hard to accept?

28 February 2016

2:37 PM

28 February 2016

2:37 PM


For years, now, the Sutton Trust has been releasing research showing how many doctors, judges, journalists etc were privately educated and conclude that it’s all a posh boys’ stitch-up. The British press loves banging this old drum, but in doing so they drown out a new tune. Today, there is more academic excellence in the state sector than the private sector.

Not that many people want to know. Take, for example, an article in this week’s Economist. “Education should not be about wealth” it quotes Tony Blair saying in 1996. Wrong, Blair! The Sutton Trust’s report shows that “two decades later, it still is” about wealth. But when does the Economist think these ‘senior civil servants, cabinet ministers and leading journalists’ went to school? Two decades ago, at least. Their performance reflects how schools were – not how they are.

And how are schools today? Private schools are in a panic, slashing fees or closing due to ferocious competition from a reformed state sector. Let’s take A-Level points per pupil, in both sectors. If you compare the top 100 state schools to the top 100 private schools, the state schools outperform. Same if you compare the top 50. Or the top 200. Or any number you like.

I created the below graph to make this point: there are a lot of state schools, and a lot do come out worse. But the best state schools are better than their private-sector equivalents. For example, move the cursor until to 200: that shows the average A-Level points per pupil for the 200th best private school and the 200th best state school. But you can bet the 200th private school spent a hell of a lot more money trying to get the results of its state equivalent.

I ran this study a while ago for my Daily Telegraph column – and private schools went bananas. It’s the only time someone actually released a statement condemning one of my articles. Why the reaction? This kind of study is toxic to them. If you’re going to fork out £20k on your child’s education, you don’t want something that’s a bit better than what you can get for free – you want one that’s a whole lot better. And there’s a lot of pretty mediocre education in the private sector.

They need to perpetuate the now-disprovable myth that private is always better. It isn’t – not anymore. It’s sometimes better, and a lot of the time it’s worse. And word is getting out, unfortunately for the sort of prep schools who charges a bomb but offer little more than expensive blazers and smatterings of Latin. As the above graph shows, the top 300 private schools can still (just) keep pace with the top 300 state schools. But after the top 300, private school attainment nosedives.

The private schools try to cover this up by using ratios: X per cent of state schools get great results, versus Y per cent of state schools. But given that state schools cover every community in Britain, and private schools mainly cover parents with the most cash, you’d expect such ratios.

What the private schools hate is that they don’t, now, have a monopoly of the top of the attainment spectrum. They don’t even have a majority of top-performing schools at A-Level. The reforms that Tony Blair unleashed are coming to maturity.

The pace of change is remarkable. When The Good Schools Guide first came out in 1986 it recommended just ten state schools. Its latest print edition mentions 265, about a third of those listed. It’s hard to keep track of the progress: in its latest digital edition, the number of state schools recommended has risen to 319.

So those Sutton Trust reports about the advantage the private education confers on people in their 40s are the best advert for private schools you could imagine, perpetuating an outdated idea that you always need to pay to get the best. You don’t: not in today’s Britain. And why? Because of that chap The Economist took a swipe at: Tony Blair. And his successors: Andrew Adonis and Michael Gove. You can already see their efforts reflected in the change in the percentage of state-educated pupils accepted for Oxbridge.

Screen Shot 2016-02-28 at 14.26.25

These graduates will hit the top of their careers in about 20 to 30 years’ time. By which time, The Sutton Trust’s report on those in the top jobs will reflect the Blair effect. And, who knows, the Economist and others might have caught up with the school revolution that’s happening before our eyes.

PS The panicked private schools commissioned their own research from Durham University, comparing all state schools to private schools. CoffeeHousers might have read about earlier this week: newspapers wrote it up as private education adding the equivalent of two years of schooling aged 16, or a two-grade improvement on GCSEs. But the small print adds that this was…

“…before deprivation, prior academic ability and school-level factors were taken into consideration. The difference was reduced to 0.64 of a GCSE grade when these factors were controlled for.”

So all of that extra cash buys your kids barely half a grade more at GCSE? Not a boast you’d see on many private school prospectuses. And it does make you wonder if a similar effect could be achieved by a bit of extra tuition.

Show comments
  • Daidragon

    Excellent article Frazier. The public sector is always being denigrated on this site. The truth is out there.

    • Mr B J Mann

      Should have gone to Spec ~0^0…::::: Savers:

      Then read the the comments!

  • Mike Buchanan

    Fraser has carefully chosen his stats to support his assertion and challenges us to contradict him. Well what about A Level Points per entry from the DfE 2015 performance tables? In other words, the measure applicants gain university and college places with either in terms of grades or points.

    My quick analysis of the DfE 2015 data shows 83/100 schools at the top
    of the Points per A Level Entry column are independent, 155/200 and 323/500.

    I am delighted whenever students achieve and I don’t care where they do it. Let’s get away from this nonsense of trading stats but equally let’s not peddle misinformation.

  • Allyup

    Identical twin studies have shown that adult intelligence is around 75% heritable, except where a twin is brought up in very poor circumstances.

    Recently researchers have found the high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence
    ….The main finding is that, although intelligence accounts for more of the heritability of GCSE than
    any other single domain, the other domains collectively account for about as much
    GCSE heritability as intelligence. Together with intelligence, these domains account for 75% of the
    heritability of GCSE.We conclude that the high heritability of educational achievement reflects many genetically influenced traits, not just intelligence.

    Top public schools are selective for intake but in addition to individual teaching also teach the soft skills that business wants.

    It’s hardly surprising that the top echelons are full of ex-public schoolboys

  • colin macdonald

    How do you upset a Guardian reader? Show him an aspirational working class parent forking out for private education. How do you upset said parent? Tell him he’s wasting his money.
    I think it’s hard to prove this though until someone does some proper twins studies, to discern different educational outcomes.

  • JabbaTheCat

    Meanwhile, back in the real world…

  • CathyC

    the problem is that whatever the education achieved, the private and public school kids are getting better careers and that can only be a consequence of networking. The injustice that needs further examination is that this networking is focused on the kind of secure employment (with pension) in publicly funded organisations. Jobs like this are in short supply … a publicly funded resource which should be directed at the most able and not the best connected.
    Another kind of Opt-in is Welsh Language education, in Wales.
    One of my children carried on into the sixth form at a Welsh school. Rationally another college looked better on paper but he wanted to stay with friends. At an A Level induction meeting the Physics teacher spoke more about media jobs as a fall-back position for welsh speaking students than he was able to say about the Physics syllabus!!!!! …. big slap in the face for students from english speaking schools who care about media and communications and bother to study the subjects.

  • Mike Buchanan

    As might be expected, Fraser has selected his data carefully to support his case.

    A quick glance at the DfE 2015 performance tables shows that when you look at the points achieved per entry (what universities/colleges use for admissions in grade form) that over 80/100 of the top schools are independents, over 150/200 top schools are independent and over 320/500 schools are independent.

    The “facts” are not all what you might have us believe, are they Fraser?

    Let’s get beyond this nonsense comparison to look at what we can do together to raise the achievement of all.

  • Andrew Cole

    Stats stats and more stats.

    What percentage of state schools does the top 200 represent? And what percentage does the top 200 private schools represent?

    I would assume that the top 200 state schools would include only the very best state schools anyway.

    How about telling us if the top 10% of state schools are outperforming the top 10% of private schools?

  • Basil Fotherington-Thomas

    Isn’t this all rather silly? With the best curricula available for free online, what possible reason could there be for paying 20,000 pounds a year? Make the expectations clear and then have a system of national testing to sort them out. There’s no reason that something similar couldn’t be done at the University level as well.

  • Terry Field

    Since the state sector is 11 times the size of the private sector, it would be a continuing bloody catastrophe if the private schools were entirely better!!!!!!

    • Father Todd Untious

      In numbers taught the state sector is 19 times larger. In money spent it is only six times larger.

      • Terry Field

        Well of course; there is no point in spending resources where no gain can be made.

        • Arthur Sparknottle

          Once again, your ONLY interest is in money. Never mind the education of the vast majority of the population. For you, unless you have screwed down costs to the absolute minimum and justified every penny in terms of results, nothing can be spent. Your name isn’t Jacob Marley by any chance is it – or Scrooge?

  • Greenslime

    …….What the private schools hate is that they don’t, now, have a monopoly of the top of the attainment spectrum…..

    Yep. But their response is not to cry for everything to be pulled down to level the playing field, is it. It is to acknowledge that they are falling behind and that they must pull their socks up or rich (and not so rich) mummies and daddies will review the value of a private education for their little Crispin or Ophelia – and that will be the death of any Public School which does not keep up with the pack, which now includes a lot of good state schools. This is the way that everyone benefits.

    • Mary Ann

      Which is more important a string of A levels or meeting the right people.

      • Greenslime

        Actually, probably meeting the right people. But you still have to prepare and that takes hard work. Luck is a convergence of preparation with opportunity.

        I don’t have an A (or O) level to my name and in the 40 odd years since I left my Secondary Modern school, I have met an awful lot of people who have academic qualifications coming out of their ears, yet many of them could not be trusted to sit unsupervised with a spoon.

        As with all of these things, it is neither one nor the other. Life is all about a string of events and how the individual puts it all together. Some do well and some don’t. Just because you don’t do well, doesn’t mean you should give up.

        Most kids start off bright. It is their environment which lets them down. Aspiration comes naturally but can be trained out if everyone around just moans and groans all of the time. We need to create the same type of aspirational approach in state schools that most public schools exude. My daughter works incredibly hard at school and is doing very well. She is very much a self-starter and It
        looks like she will end up with 8 A stars. She will then, I hope go on to
        do well at IB and subsequently university. She will then do well at whatever she chooses because she is determined to do that – and without any help from me too.

  • Mr B J Mann

    Would Fraser like to confirm the ranking of his children’s school(s), whether he lives in their immediate locality and if he does how much of a premium he had to pay for the privilege?

    If he’s not a Diane Abbot, is he a Gove?

  • rjbh

    My youngest son.. went with his brother to an average Scottish high school..both had the chance to go to university, both did. the older dropped out to pursue his ambition to be a DJ. the younger has 3 degrees in Computing , Economics, and a another from Harvard JFK school. in public administration, which he mainly funded by himself.

    ‘Elitism’ is not necessary ..just a decent school.

  • paul

    Money or ones social standing does not buy intelligence just look at the Royal Family and our PM & Chancellor they are not the sharpest tools in the box !!!!

  • Aloysius

    He’s got a point on the academic stats front: paying doesn’t necessarily equate to better grades on a general front. But this certainly doesn’t render private schools obsolete for those who have the cash. Many private schools are better than state schools at ‘value added’. That is, taking a student who is predicted, say a C grade at GCSE and teaching him/her so well that they outperform this prediction. Moreover, the all-inclusive extra-curricular stuff is what the parents are really paying for and it’s undeniably worthwhile if you’ve got the cash. The experience of boarding can also be beneficial to some children.

    • gunnerbear

      “Moreover, the all-inclusive extra-curricular stuff is what the parents are really paying for and it’s undeniably worthwhile if you’ve got the cash.” Yup the pool, the rowing lake, trips to Switzerland, the chance to make connections with the parents it might be useful to know….

      • Aloysius

        I don’t deny it. But also throw in all the sport, music, drama, debating groups, scholarship programmes, better staff-pupil ratios, etc. Even non essential things like wine tasting and fly fishing. If you can afford it, why not take advantage of it? In the absence of private schools parents with the cash would pay for these activities anyway. It’s a lot easier for busy parents to sub-contract all of this to schools

        • gunnerbear

          Fair comment.

      • HJ777

        There is only one school with a rowing lake.

        It is open for other schools and clubs to use – and they frequently do. You don’t need to go to the school to use their facilities.

  • sidor

    Von Laue said: “Education is what remains in your head when you forgot what you were taught”.

    That is, the result of education is the ability to think. An educated man need not remember the proof of Pythagoras theorem from the textbook, but he must be able to prove it.

    On the other hand, I never met a mathematically educated person who would be linguistically illiterate.

    That implies a very simple criterion of education level: ability to solve mathematical problems. Particularly geometry, where the logical cpacity is apparent.

    On simple way to improve education: mathematical tests for anyone aspiring for civil srvice (and for MPs).

    • gunnerbear

      A friend of mine – a master joiner – used to be employed on one of his last jobs by the firm he worked for, to assess apprentices and judge how they were doing….one of the tests that he thought was useful, was to ask them to build something to a plan…..he would always provide them with lots more material than was needed…the key was the measuring and the maths so as to use as little material as possible…thus pushing the ‘notional profit’ on the jobs up! What he was looking for from the new apprentices was safe systems of work and the like but from those nearing the end of their time, he was always expecting more planning and measurements before any selection of material was done, let alone cutting etc.

  • hobspawn

    Middle state school A level score: 718
    Middle private school A level score: 839
    40% of Oxbridge entrants from the 7% of schools which are private, despite the leftard admissions bending over backwards to take state school applicants.

    No wonder independent schools went bananas with Fraser’s stupid yet cynical deception.

    As for the Blair worship, you’re on your own.

  • Sue Smith

    All this article tells me is that people want everything for free these days and removing kids from private schools is one of the ways to get more for free. Why not? That leaves more money for stuff – consumer goods and travel. Let the taxpayers foot the bill for educating your children!!!

  • Tamerlane

    Because it’s not true?

  • HJ777

    I think that in order to demonstrate his point, Fraser Nelson would need to normalise for entry selection criteria.

    For example, if you compare the top 100 state schools with the top 100 independent schools then you need to know how selective their intake is relative to each other.

    Unless you do that, I cannot see how any comparison is valid.

    • gunnerbear

      Careful HJ, you’re starting to ask some tricky questions there! 🙂

  • Richard Lutz

    Public schools have nothing to do with education and everything to do with rich children forming friendships and alliances with other rich children.

  • Dean Jackson

    “The best state schools have pulled ahead of private schools. Why is that so hard to accept?”

    Really? From my vantage point both types produce non-thinking parrots, as nicely illustrated here…

    The following are two discoveries I made in April 2015 regarding the Yugoslav ‘civil wars’ and ‘collapse’ of the USSR, and what they prove about the institutions of the West…

    (I) Communist control of Yugoslavia ‘civil wars’ gone unnoticed for quarter century.

    Secessionist Yugoslav Orthodox, Catholic and Muslim factions waged dirty wars against each other, neglecting to first wipe out the 9% of the population that attempted to do away with religion in Yugoslavia, proving the wars were orchestrated and controlled by the communist faction.

    Murder, torture and legal discrimination of those professing religious sentiment was so intense under the Marxist regime in Belgrade, that those who professed no religious affiliation increased from less than 10% pre-1945 to a bewildering 32% by 1987…

    ‘Like in most former Communist countries in Central, Eastern and South­‑Eastern Europe, the means and actions applied by the Yugoslav Government between 1945 and 1990 to reduce the influence of religions and religious organisations were quite effective: While there was just a tiny group of people who regarded themselves to be without a religion before the Second World War (less than 0.1% of the population), this number grew to 13% in 1953 and to 32% in 1987.’

    That 9% constitutes members of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, the Marxist party that subjugated Yugoslavia from 1945 until the party’s dissolution in January 1990. Before any religious sectarian strife, first there would have been massive reprisals against the reviled Communists who implemented policies to wipe out religion in Yugoslavia. The fact that no such reprisals took place proves that the breakup of Yugoslavia, during the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001), was manufactured and controlled by the Communists; and

    (II) When Soviet citizens were liberated from up to 74 years of horrific Marxist-atheist oppression on December 26, 1991, the day the USSR officially ended, there were ZERO celebrations throughout the USSR, proving (1) the ‘collapse’ of the USSR is a strategic ruse; and (2) the political parties of the West were already co-opted by Marxists,* otherwise the USSR (and East Bloc nations) couldn’t have gotten away with the ruse.

    ZERO celebrations, as the The Atlantic article inadvertently informs us…

    Notice, however, the Kremlin staged anti-government demonstrations that took place in Russia (and other Soviet republics) in the years immediately preceding the ‘collapse’, yet ZERO celebrations after the ‘collapse’!

    For more on this discovery see my blog…

    The above means that the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is an operation being carried out by the Marxist co-opted governments of the West in alliance with the USSR and other Communist nations, the purpose being to (1) destroy the prominence of the West in the eyes of the world, where the West is seen (i) invading nations without cause; (ii) causing chaos around the globe; and (iii) killing over one-million civilians and boasting of torture; (2) close off non-Russian supplies of oil for export, thereby increasing the price of oil, the higher price allowing oil exporting Russia to maintain economic stability while she modernizes and increases her military forces; (3) destroy the United States Armed Forces via the never-ending ‘War on Terror’; the ultimate purpose of the aforementioned to (4) bring about the demise of the United States in the world, opening up a political void to be filled by a new pan-national entity composed of Europe and Russia (replacing the European Union), a union ‘From the Atlantic to Vladivostok’;** which will (5) see the end of NATO.

    The fraudulent ‘collapse’ of the USSR (and East Bloc) couldn’t have been pulled off until both political parties in the United States (and political parties elsewhere in the West) were co-opted by Marxists, which explains why verification of the ‘collapse’ was never undertaken by the West, such verification being (1) a natural administrative procedure (since the USSR wasn’t occupied by Western military forces); and (2) necessary for the survival of the West. Recall President Reagan’s favorite phrase, “Trust, but verify”.

    It gets worse–the ‘freed’ Soviets and West also never (1) de-Communized the Soviet Armed Forces of its Communist Party officer corps, which was 90% officered by Communist Party members; and (2) arrested/de-mobilized the five million vigilantes that assisted the Soviet Union’s Ministry of the Interior and police control the populations of the cities during the period of ‘Perestroika’ (1986-1991)!

    There can be no collapse of the USSR (or East Bloc nations) without…

    Verification, De-Communization and De-mobilization.

    The West never verified the collapse of the USSR because no collapse occurred, since if a real collapse had occurred the West would have verified it, since the survival of the West depends on verification. Conversely, this proves that the political parties of the West were co-opted by Marxists long before the fraudulent collapse of the USSR, since the survival of the West depends on verification.


    The West will form new political parties where candidates are vetted for Marxist ideology, the use of the polygraph to be an important tool for such vetting. Then the West can finally liberate the globe of vanguard Communism.


    * The failed socialist inspired and controlled pan-European revolutions that swept the continent in 1848(1) taught Marxists and socialists a powerful lesson, that lesson being they couldn’t win overtly,(2) so they adopted the tactic of infiltration of the West’s political parties/institutions. In the case of the United States…(continue reading at DNotice)…

    ** ‘Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans. We are by no means indifferent to developments in united Europe.

    That is why Russia proposes moving toward the creation of a common economic and human space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean – a community referred by Russian experts to as “the Union of Europe,” which will strengthen Russia’s potential and position in its economic pivot toward the “new Asia.”’ – Vladimir Putin (2012).

  • gochome

    It is not just about education though is it. Who will have the better a career path, an ex Etonian with 2 poor A-levels or an Ace from a state school with 4 good a-levels?

    The blog post I read recently about Dave summed him and the value of his eductaion up nicely. This is what parents are buying, not top grade results.

    ‘Cameron’s strength has always been his own self-belief (“Because I think I’d be very good at it” – a quote which surely should have disqualified him from the start!). He’s a classic example of the confidence untempered by any impartial assessment of his own ability which rich people pay top schools to install in their kids. Their belief in their own excellence is so overwhelming that it frequently carries others with it.

    How wonderful it would be to see the bubble punctured. I had many encounters with this kind of rich-kid privilege in my student days and it is as baffling as it is infuriating – the latter mainly because it confers so many unearned advantages.’

    • gunnerbear

      There’s a classic example of that in the Ipcress file when Harry Palmer is briefing the Met. Commissioner and the Commissioner asks about one of HPs men…..and it turns out the chap in question, Chillcot-Oakes, was ‘at school with the Commissioners youngest’…… …rightly Harry heads for the pub wondering, “What chance did I stand between the Communists on the one side and the Establishment on the other.”

    • Penny

      Not all independent schools are Eton – or anything like Eton. Not all kids who go to independent schools have rich parents either. That may have been the case decades ago but in recent years, pretty average people are finding ways to get the money together to pay the fees.

  • Mr B J Mann

    Average A Level points?!

    So not Average for Maths and English? Or Maths, English, Sciences, traditional Humanities subjects and Foreign Languages?!

    So, basically Fraser is (again) comparing apples with Meejah and PE!

    And he STILL has to fiddle the graphs!!!

  • Dennis McScumbag

    If you think the Private Schools are good now, just imagine good they would be if we carpeted over the British students with more ambitious immigrants.

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    I can name one of the best state schools, Dame Alice Owens in Herts.
    To get in you have to pass an eleven plus style exam (1200 kids sit for around 150 places). Our local primary rated as Outstanding for over 10 years gets maybe 1 kid in every few years, and lots of parents have tutors to try and get them in believe me. Private schools are far more successful at getting kids in

    • Arthur Sparknottle

      The house prices in the catchment area of the ‘excellent school’ means that only rich and successful people can afford to live there, so is the school really that excellent, or is it just a school whose pupils having rich, successful and highly intelligent parents, committed to education, are very gifted and successful?

      Since about 70% to 80% of intelligence is genetically determined, schools in leafy, expensive suburbs are I would suggest, in a VERY fortunate position as regards the genetic and cultural capital of their pupil intake?

      • red2black

        ‘about 70% to 80% of intelligence is genetically determined’?

        • Arthur Sparknottle

          Absolutely. Read the research. One of the big problems about a lot of government ministered of both right and left is that they operate on the basis that any child can become an educational success just on the basis of being taught harder. A significant reason why children in sink estate schools do badly is not that the schools are bad, but that the children are dull witted – just like their parents. This effect has been over-turned to some extent in London schools by a huge influx of poor, but intelligent migrants from Eastern Europe who take accommodation in poor areas in London. They buck the trend in settled communities for example in the North of England where in parts of some towns, long established populations of dull witted people occupy certain urban communities. They have intergenerational unemployment and deprivation simply because the people have no skills and no useful intelligence.

          • red2black

            There are parents from poor backgrounds that don’t value education, but there are plenty more who do. Dull as parents may be, from whatever background, does it really necessarily follow that their children will be dull as well if given educational opportunities, despite parental indifference? Take a new-born from uneducated and disadvantaged poor parents and give it to educated and advantaged parents to raise, and let the uneducated and disadvantaged poor parents take a new-born from educated and advantaged parents to and raise. What do you think the results would be as far as biological determinism is concerned in relation to other factors such as home and school environments, parental interest, and economic, social and educational expectations?

            • Arthur Sparknottle

              I’ve already covered this with you; peer reviewed intelligence research finds that intelligence is between 70% and 80% due to genetic inheritance. Of course EVERY child needs and requires good upbringing to make the most of this. If you took a pair of identical twins (identical potential intelligence) separated them, and brought them up one in a deprived and ignorant background and one in a family who value education and encourage success, they would turn out differently, but mostly because of lost opportunities for learning (such as early language and social experience) and bad attitudes. There is loads of research on this subject going back decades. Background is of course important, and so is the quality of schooling, but in the end, genetically determined intelligence is also important, just as is genetic physical ability in athletics. You and I could never have been a Yousain Bolt I dare say, although even though less well endowed physically, we might have with good training made quite reasonable runners and certainly better than even well endowed physical specimens who were over fed, obese and lay on the couch all day while we ‘weeds’ were at the track making the best of our endowments. THAT is EXACTLY the position with inherited intellectual ability. Some of us are born with quad core high speed processors between our ears because that is what our parents have, and others , sadly only have much less rapid processors with less memorising capacity and much lower ability to differentiate differences between one thing and another.

              • red2black

                The determinist element seems to be overstated in some research. ‘Up to 40%’ in research that takes account of other factors. Of course, it’s all become ‘political’, and ‘intelligence’ isn’t the easiest thing to define.

  • kyalami

    Now do the same comparison with the top x% of state schools vs the same % of independent. That’s a fair comparison.

  • hobspawn

    Fraser doesn’t understand graphs. Surprise. Fraser criticises those who tell him he doesn’t understand graphs, even though he doesn’t understand graphs. More surprise. Fraser, did you read PPE?

    • gunnerbear

      Why is PPE even considered a real subject?

  • Andrew J. Balmer

    This graph shows 40% of students at Oxbridge are privately educated? Out of around 7% of the population. I don’t see how that supports this argument? It also shows that it has only changed by about 8% in the 25 years since 1990… Looks like it has only changed about 3% since Gove took over continuing an already present trend.. not likely due to him.

    Also, numerous caveats… how many state schools are Grammars? In the South and London? In middle class areas compared to disadvantaged areas? What about other top universities and achievement among students not attending uni?

    • The Masked Marvel

      There could be other factors getting all those privately educated kids into Oxbridge, nothing to do with the qualities Fraser is discussing, no?

      • gunnerbear

        Yep….connections, donations from parents, being better trained for the interviews, going on day visits to the Cambridge or Oxford, knowing which fork to use, how to address the Boss of the College and the like…… …..incidentally, I’ve not got an axe to grind as I did most of my qualifications part time….. 🙂

  • sidor

    It would be of interest to test the academic level of the active ministers. It was recently fount that Cameron is sure that “Rule Britannia” was composed by Elgar.

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      Which shows how successful his private schools were – a dullard like Cameron got to Oxford and became PM

      • sidor

        Wikipedia: His tutor, Professor Vernon Bogdanor, described him as “one of the ablest”

        From this we can conclude the level of the rest.

        • rtj1211

          Or we can conclude your inability to gather evidence and evaluate things which contradict your prejudices…….

          • sidor

            Could you please specify your statement: do you disagree with his tutor and suggest that other students were better than Cameron?

          • vieuxceps2

            Or,rtj,we can conclude that your comment is evidence of your own mighty prejudices. Perpetuum mobile?

        • commenteer

          I suspect Vernon Bogdanor was hoping for favours when he said that. Cameron was leader of the party by that time.

          • gunnerbear

            Brilliantly cynical! Top Notch!

        • gunnerbear

          So one of the ‘ablest’ – a product of the best the UKs education system could provide – didn’t know what Magna Carta was and is equally unsure about the timings and relationships between countries during the WWII…..f**k knows that the less than able that go through the same same elite system are like….

    • IainRMuir

      I’m no fan of Cameron but I suspect that he might have known but was afraid to admit it. Gove and Osborne didn’t want to be seen going to the Royal Opera House for exactly the same reason.

      Cool Britannia is alive and well.

      • sidor

        Do you suggest that Elgar was a sarcastic joke? He could have simply say: I don’t know.

  • Barnaby Lenon

    On the basis of average points per A level 2015, 84 of the top 100 schools are independent schools. There is no evidence of state schools pulling away.

  • Nigel Sedgwick

    Frazer Nelson is not choosing the most appropriate statistics for his graphical plots, but making choices that give bias in support of his case.

    In the first plot (titled State Schools Pull Ahead), he stretches the plot spread of state schools over the total count of state schools (2,101) and compresses that for private schools (count of 522). If you take the mid-point for state schools (that ranked 1,050), the average A-level points per pupil there is 717.7. The mid-point for private schools (that ranked 260) has an average A-level points per pupil of 839.4.

    Repeating the above at the one quartile point (from the better A-level end) gives state school rank of 525 with average A-level scores of 784.8 and private school rank of 132 with average A-level scores of 919.1. At the three quartile point, this gives state school rank of 1,575 with average A-level scores of 648.1 and private school rank of 393 with average A-level scores of 753.0.

    If the two plots are rescaled on the horizontal axis to be the percentage of total schools of their type, the result would show state schools doing better at the two extremes (best and worse A-level performance for their school type) but would show state schools doing less well than private schools over much of the range. On interpretation, this is just the equivalent of having around 4 times as many private schools (so the same number as for state schools) covering the same private school spread and variation across the range as for the current and smaller set of private schools.

    Mr Nelson writes: “I ran this study a while ago for my Daily Telegraph column – and private schools went bananas.” Well, this state grammar school boy (from over 40 years ago) felt instantly that he had been hit full in the face with a mushy statistical watermelon of irrelevance to the case being discussed.

    Mr Nelson then wibbles a fair bit in justification of the horizontal axis being rank rather than percentage. He misses that the percentage case is just actually just the correct normalisation for the number of schools of each type being different. He further justifies his case by writing that “The private schools try to cover up this success story by using ratios.”

    What Frazer Nelson has missed is that the real measure of the worth of a school is what it adds to, or brings to fruition from, the intrinsic ability of the pupil. He is almost certainly right that the average intrinsic ability of private school pupils is greater than the average intrinsic ability of state school pupils. But it is not the right way forward to use this lack of relevance as excuse to give a spurious ‘statistical’ boost and end up using a plot of even less relevance.

    Finally on this, is Frazer Nelson recommending, directly and through promulgation, his approach of (frankly wrong) statistical manipulation to secondary school pupils in general, and to their less mathematically informed teachers in particular. It might actually cause real-world mistakes to be made where this is against his preferred outcome. How then will he argue: perhaps that statistical evidence only matters when (irrespective of manipulation, cherrypicking, bias, whatever) he agrees with the case?

    Best regards

    • gunnerbear

      Which goes to show… we all know…that when it comes to statistics….you pay yer money, yer take your choices….. …..given the resources and selection process and parental backing available, an average private school should get better results than an ‘average’ comprehensive state school if the entire ability range of the Comp. is considered. Where it gets much less clear is when the private school results are compared against the top sets / streams in a comprehensive………when ‘like for like’ is considered the picture is much less certain. At a comp. I was at, the top sets were allowed to take their GCSEs early (quite usual in the locality) and crack on with more advanced work…. Most of the people I knew went to school with, went to the local sixth form or the very good Tech. Col.

      • HJ777

        People choose independent schools for many reason other than academic results.

        One is simply a dislike of the government determining how their child will be educated (although government control over independent schools has, unfortunately, increased dramatically).

        Other examples include the range of subjects offered (for example, many state schools no longer offer Biology, Physics and Chemistry separately at GCSE and only allow single or double ‘science’.

        Extra-curricular activities such as the sports facilities is another reason.

        My personal view is that all schools should be independent – government involvement should focus purely on how pupils are funded. I’ve not seen any evidence that government holds any special expertise when it comes to running educational establishments.

        • gunnerbear

          “My personal view is that all schools should be independent – government involvement should focus purely on how pupils are funded. I’ve not seen any evidence that government holds any special expertise when it comes to running educational establishments.” More than fair comment but the crunch comes when very expensive technical schools would need to be set up – that would be beyond the reach of most parents who would get ‘education vouchers’ – the taxpayer would have to step in and fund it.

  • davidofkent

    It seems perfectly obvious that when the cost of something exceeds by far its value, the demand for it falls. That has certainly happened in the Public Schools sector, so now it’s only the very rich who can buy their children’s future economic success through Public School. What an achievement!!!!!!!

  • James Chilton

    Fraser Nelson affects to believe that state schools are best. Academic excellence isn’t the only consideration that encourages people who can afford it, to pay for their children’s private education.

    • Father Todd Untious

      No. Contacts and admission to a charmed circle of corruption is the main motivation. Why else do so many foreigners come to our toff schools? The breeding grounds of an increasingly closed sect.

  • right1_left1

    The problem with all this bollux is that there is no correlation between academic success and subsequent success in the real world.

    I discount of course those academically successful who labour mightily to produce ever more academic successes
    The BBC is full of ’em
    The civil service is full of ’em
    Meanwhile we have to buy steamrollers from Korea.
    Bah humbeg !

    • rtj1211

      Do you treat your employees like convicts and track them via mobile phones, bugs in company cars? Do you hack their computers and befriend those who tap telephones?

      I’ve worked for employers like that. None of them could analyse a thing. When confronted with evidence and analysis, they take ownership of it whilst marginalising those who provided it for them.

      How would you like it if your daughter were treated like that at work?

      Would you tell her to toughen up or would you tell her that MI5 will install bugs in her home if she ever thinks of a reasonable job? Make her live like a convict in an open prison, for the sole crime of having bought into all that ‘ambition’ schtick??

      The sooner that people who behave like that meet mutilatory violence to teach them how to behave the better.

      That way, all the thick thugs who think they are worth a fig will learn the hard way their true value on earth.

      • gunnerbear

        Umm…I presume that the company I work for has full access to everything on my work PC and in any e-mail sent from work in a works account. I don’t have a company mobile nor a company car but I think quite a few of the company vehicles are fitted with trackers as a fully fitted works vehicle is expensive to replace.

    • Sue Smith

      Yes, that right, because schools don’t identify entrepreneurs and these are the people who make it big. They take ALL the risks and do most of the work.

  • WFC

    When I was at school, all but two of the top 20 schools were state maintained, as were the large majority of the top 100.

    Moreover 2/3rds of entrants to Oxbridge were from the state maintained sector. (That was when Oxbridge discriminated in favour of the older public schools, with reserved places.)

    Interesting to see that the state sector is once again aspiring to regain that state of affairs: which was brought to an abrupt halt by Shirley Williams and co.

    • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

      If they’d just change the law and allow new grammar schools to open we’d be there within a decade. The best schools would convert to grammars and select, as we do with every other field in life, on merit.

      • gunnerbear

        You want new GSs….fine after the taxpayer has footed the bill for the eye-wateringly expensive elite technical education leg of the ‘tripartite system’. We tried it the other way around years ago and back then, once GSs were up and running the ‘vocational leg’ of the system got s**t on.

        • Mr B J Mann

          There’s a massive difference between vocational and technical.

          Secondary Moderns were vocational

          Technical schools were supposed to develop engineers and scientists,

          It was the secondary moderns that were expensive with all the workshop space and equipment for everyone most of the time.

          Technical schools were just grammars with a different focus and maybe slightly better lab and workshops.

          The big problem is the UK looks down on “trade”!

  • AQ42

    How many of the best state schools are Grammars?

    • telemachus

      Google for your answer

      • SunnyD

        you missed a trick, I would’ve said “try here: ” – in fact – I did (thanks for the inspiration)

      • Hugh

        Thanks for the tip, Tele. I got down to number 20 and all but one were.

    • Arthur Sparknottle

      Do I need to point out that the grammar schools ONLY accept the most able pupils and entirely disregard the other seventy or eighty percent of the school intake population at large? This fact makes comparing the results of grammars and comprehensive schools meaningless, unless one first removed from the comprehensive out turn figures the results of those students who would not have been eligible for a grammar school education. Then you might be comparing like with like. I wouldn’t tolerate any kind of sloppiness in education, but I get rather tired of reading comments in which people point out the absolutely obvious – that schools which start by screening out about eighty percent of the population because they aren’t clever enough, miraculously get much better results at the end of the process than schools which take every range of ability, including those with IQs that are barely measurable.

      • Mr B J Mann

        Errrmmmmmmmm, except that the comparison being compared is the
        comparison between the best state schools, including grammars, and the
        best private schools.

        NOT between comprehensives and grammars.

        Do TRY to keep up Sparknottle!

        Why do I need to point out that what
        the question being asked is: how many of the best state schools
        being compared so favourably with the best private schools are actually
        state grammars, rather than state comprehensives!

        • Arthur Sparknottle

          Don’t get so feisty unless you are on solid ground Mr Mann. My comment was not a response to generality of the article but to a particular question by AQ42 who asked a question about the number of grammar schools. Your offensive attitude is both unnecessary and unwelcome. Perhaps if you had a few less espressos in the morning you wouldn’t feel so irritable and your reaction might be less volatile and confrontational. I thought you and I had been quite civil to one another of late.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Don’t get so feisty unless you are on solid ground Sparknottle Minor. You comment was not a response to the generality of the education system, but to a particular question by AQ42 who asked a question not “about the number of grammar schools”, but about “How many of the best state schools are Grammars?” in specific response to an article specifically claiming that “state’ schools were better than public schools, his point clearly being that the top “state” schools were probably actually “state” school copies of public schools that the state has been trying to kill off!

            Your offensive attitude is both unnecessary and unwelcome. Perhaps if you had a few less espressos, a filthy foreign habit I never indulge in, in the morning you wouldn’t feel so irritable and your reaction might be less volatile and confrontational.

            I thought you and I had been quite civil to one another of late.

            • Arthur Sparknottle

              As you quoted AQ48 –

              “”How many of the best state schools are Grammars?””

              Thus it is perfectly proper to interject that Grammars are selective since he was clearly comparing the proportion of state schools excelling in outcome, with the proportion of them that operate a selective entrance policy. By the way, grammars not only apply performance criteria on entry, but also operate an ongoing one, pushing people out who do not keep up. This may be perfectly acceptable since they only want to operate with the elite part of the ability range, but it also sends their rejects to the rest of the system which AQ48 was in the passage you quoted, comparing with the grammars.

              You are clearly less interested in a debate about the causes of differences in outcome in different kinds of schools than you are in being petulant and offensive so I won’t engage you further in the more interesting aspects of this subject.

              Do enjoy the rest of your day old chap.

              • Mr B J Mann

                You are clearly less interested in a debate about the causes of differences in outcome in different kinds of schools than you are in being petulant and offensive.

                And in defending your misreading of the question and demanding your erroneous answer still merits an A*.

                Sorry, old bean, but no cigar!

                So I won’t engage you further in the more interesting aspects of this subject.

                Do enjoy the rest of your day old chap.

                • Arthur Sparknottle

                  Have a nice day old chap.

        • Mary Ann
          • Mr B J Mann

            I’m sorry, but what has that got to do with my correction of Mr Nottsparkle’s misinterpretation of AQ42’s question?

            Oh, I see, you are confirming that, I fact, the top 21 “state secondaries” are not only highly selective admitted and effective pseudo public school grammars but that:

            “buying a home in the catchment area of a top state school could cost as much as privately educating a child”!

            • Sandra Barwick

              Why do you think grammars are pseudo public schools? You cannot pay to get a child into a grammar school. In London they are very, very racially mixed, and many children do not have university educated parents. They are very selective, That’s true, because there are so few of them, and so much demand, especially from ethnic groups who are first generation British and highly value education. If there were more of them they would be less selective.
              It is not just because of selection that they succeed, though that’s a key reason of course. They also make pupils work extremely hard and enforce discipline. Within the schools there is peer group pressure to succeed.

              • Mr B J Mann

                I think that they are pseudo public schools not because they are fee-charging, which, obviously, they aren’t.

                But because they model themselves on public, rather than state comp, schools:

                Selection, (proper) uniforms, discipline, (competitive) houses, upholding traditional values, instilling an academic ethos, expecting competitiveness and rewarding success. Not being afraid of “shaming” people by rankings, league tables, etc, within classes and years, believing that spelling, rote learning, respecting teachers for what they know and who they are, rather than they needing to “earn” the respect of the “students”, not being child centred, and not thinking that a child can learn for itself…….

                Einstein got where he was by standing on the shoulders of giants.

                Ordinary state schools seem to think that little people can become Nobel Prizewinners by playing on the Internet and drawing posters to describe how scullerymaids and slaves felt in the barbaric bad old days,

                Strange how they never have to empathise with the victims of barbaric Barbary Pirates?!?!?!!!!

                By the way, you say that:

                “If there were more of them they would be less selective.”


                If they weren’t they would be bog standard comps!!!!!!!!!

                • Sandra Barwick

                  I agree with much of what you say, Mr Mann, however long ago, before most grammars were abolished, they were nowhere as selective as they are now, and they were still good schools. I went to one. The degree of selection now, in London at least, is extraordinary and reflects huge demand for the type of schooling you describe. To get in pupils don’t just have to be clever all rounders, they have to be extremely hard working, and their parents have to work to, to motivate and support them. So they arrive in grammar and good private schools already used to working, and to achieving, and they value the school more because it has been so hard to get in. I don’t think I would have got in to a grammar these days. There is room for many more of them.
                  Some schools in tough city areas, notably the one once run by the current Chief Inspector, do all you say despite being comprehensives. But I think (and I have taught) that the problem in many comprehensive is not that the children are stupid, or that they are set easy work, it is the institutionalised acceptance of bad behaviour in the education system. It is blamed on everyone – parents, teachers, social circumstances – but the pupils themselves.

                • Mr B J Mann

                  But where are these problem pupils taught?

                  And where were their parents taught?!

                  And grandparents?!!

                  How many generations of gymslip mums have been “educated” by being institutionalised in “liberal” comprehensives?

                  Have we had the first great great granddaughter yet?

                  Or perhaps even the the first great great great granddaughter?!

                  All taught to be self centred by child centered policies where the teachers are supposed to earn the “respect” of their pupils, but spend their lives ensuring they don’t use an inappropriate tone or volume, judge their charges, or inadvertently “diss” them!

                • Sandra Barwick

                  They must breed very quickly in your part of the world. When was the first comp?

                • Sandra Barwick

                  And when did you last see inside a classroom?

                • Mr B J Mann


                  And I was specifically referring to gymslip mums,

                  1955, 1970, 1985, 2000, 2015?

                  Or even 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015!

              • Mr B J Mann

                PS as for:

                “They are very selective, That’s true, because there are so few of them, and so much demand,”


                As there are so few of them the rich outbid everyone else for all the houses in the catchment area.

                So you get, say, the cleverest 40% of rich kids getting in, rather than the cleverest 10% of all kids!

      • No Man’s Land

        No you don’t, I assume this is the point of the question. To properly understand this data we need at least three lines: state, grammar and private, it might even be worth throwing academies and faith schools in for good measure.

        • Zanderz

          Yep, agree. Any selective school will do better with averaged results. However, these results are also meaningless as average point score is simply a reflection of intake. A better measure of school performance at GCSE (and A level) is ‘Added Value – Prior Attainment’, which is the new standard next year. Simply put, given your primary school level, how far have you improved at secondary school.

          There are many schools that come out poorly with averaged results (due to low achieving intake), that are in fact doing very well with added value – these are the places to send your children.

          There are many seemingly high achieving (on averaged results) schools who add very little value to top set kids.

          • Arthur Sparknottle

            Quite right, but what a disgrace that the OFSTED system is still using pretty much raw results rather than value added to compare and make judgements about school success. I can remember almost twenty years ago Carol Fitzgibbon at Durham and Timms and co at teh same University were running excellent school comparison systems such as ALLIS and YELLIS. I recall attending a conference at which Woodhead of OFSTED and seducing his pupil fame (he said she was his ex-pupil, but his colleagues, and his wife said otherwise) attended and was thoroughly briefed on the value added measures. This was in the mid 1990s. The differences in the ability of pupils entering secondary schools situated in the leafy suburbs and those in some inner city locations can be absolutely stark. Throw selective grammars into the equation and it is lunacy to compare the outcomes of the institutions and then throw mud at those struggling in slum areas with children whose families may have multi-generational unemployment, yet that is what OFSTED does, declaring the schools as failing.

          • Mr B J Mann


            If a school is highly skilled at bringing someone up from a fail to a D, why does that mean it will be any good at bringing someone from a C to an A?

            The teachers might only have Bs themselves!

            • Zanderz

              Added value is measured separately for low, middle and high achieving children, so you can see how the school teachers the spectrum of ability.

              Often added value is lower for high achieving children than middle, as schools are going for the A-C average % and therefore don’t really care about extending able children. High achieving children are generally in 20-40% of intakes, so that a lot of children ‘bored at school’.

              Just got to gov school performance and look at the figures.

              • Mr B J Mann

                So, in fact, the schools that “add value” are merely improving the scores of the less able at the expense of the more able academically.

                Resulting in over”qualified” less academic school leavers looking for jobs that require academic paper qualifications that they aren’t actually qualified for, and turning their noses up at “manual” and “trade” jobs they would be much better at, happier in, and probably much better paid doing!

                While the more academically able just get the bare minimum help they need to keep the schools scores up, but not to fulfil their potential.

                No wonder we need to import so many people to fill jobs at the loer and upper end of the scale.

                And those in the middle can’t do their jobs properly because they are square pegs in round holes!

                • Zanderz

                  No, you missed my point. The new system (it’s in place at the moment but you have to drill into the figures to find it) allows schools to be judged on added value for each ability levels. Parents will look at added value for their child’s ability, not just a whole school A-C%.

                  Schools can’t hide mediocre teaching behind a good intake as it’ll be clear to see that the more able children haven’t improved much.

            • Terry Field

              Or F’s reading the lesson from a crib before teaching.

          • Mr B J Mann

            But once you’ve ranked by added value, then what?

            Do you put your highest performing pupils into them, and then send them to Oxbridge?

            Do you put your worst performing pupils into them, then send them on the best Meejah courses in the country?

            Do you keep them as they are but turn Oxbridge into their Sixth Form College to get them into Russell Group unis?

            Do you provide them with Upper Upper Sixths, and perhaps Upper Upper Upper Sixths, to get them caught up with the posh kids?

            Or do you select out the most academically able and send them to special academic “academies”, and let the school concentrate on giving the rest the most comprehensive education possible?!

            • Zanderz

              See my reply below.

              • Mr B J Mann

                Are you reading oldest first, or newest?

                Or best?!

            • Terry Field

              Added value is politically correct garbage. Useless, since its nuclear physicists would do much better in cake-baking.

          • No Man’s Land

            Yes I agree, but I would see that as complimentary to this, they tell you slightly different things both of which are important, sort of analogous to output vs. productivity.

          • Terry Field

            why bother with the results of schools that concentrate the stupid together. Plainly they will do poorly, as they must.

        • Arthur Sparknottle

          Faith schools are in general a special kind of opt in by committed parents. These are generally people who are more intelligent than the average and who have a hands on approach to parenting. THESE are the reasons why faith schools in general do better, not because of the ‘faith’ angle.

          • Sue Smith

            There’s a good deal of logic to these comments, in my experience as a teacher.

            • Arthur Sparknottle

              If teachers who can only act on their pupils for about five and a half hours a day are not operating with good family back up to reinforce their efforts, they are like Sisiphus, pushing a large boulder up a hill with no one to help.

              Private schools, grammar schools and faith schools in general have a huge amount of input in terms of supporting attitude and reminding children that education is a vital resource and a valuable commodity. Of course some parents in comprehensive schools also support the school’s efforts, but in many inner city environments there is a substantial minority of cases where the family background evinces belligerent ignorance and actively undermines the school’s efforts in terms of bad example and even outright encouragement to rebel against the school’s values. This might amount to as much as the high twenties of percentage of intake in some areas. Long term unemployment, drugs, alcohol abuse and crime lies behind a substantial part of educational failure.

              • dwarfpoo

                I agree, i went to a faith school and decided coming from Northern Ireland I would let my son choose his faith if any. I was not prepared for the huge difference in behaviour of children attending secular schools and had to withdraw to private. It was common for children to tell teachers to f off, throw tables etc and parents encouraging children to fight back outside. This was in a London comp in a decent area. I was shocked.

              • Andrew Cole

                Yep exactly what I stated. Although I would suggest a higher % than you have there at <=30% (especially on the council estates) are only bothered about getting their kids into the very nearest school regardless of how good it is and their kids are out on the street all evening every night and look puzzled when my kids tell them they will come out after homework. Homework? This is primary age.

                I think this has increased over the past couple of decades where parents strived to help their kids get out of the council estates whereas now they strive to avoid having to put the PS3, mobile phone or Sky remote down.

          • No Man’s Land

            I wasn’t arguing that they children were blessed, it is almost certainly a mix of selection and motivated parents.

        • Mary Ann

          Faith schools often get good results because they tend to have dedicated parents, people who are not religious but will attend church for years just to get their children into a school, it could be a lot cheaper than moving into the right catchment area.

          • Andrew Cole

            I haven’t been to Church since I was 16 and told my Dad he could no longer insist I did so, however I wanted my kids to go to a Catholic primary because they seem to be more rigid in routines and also demand better behaviour / discipline. I didn’t have to attend any masses to get my kids in. I applied, then appealed and got lucky with my eldest and of course that gave me the priority for his siblings.

            I was quite lucky though because the year after there were 100 applications for 30 places when the 2009 crop of polish kids reached 4 years old.

        • Terry Field

          I reckon the madrassas will trounce the private schools in chemistry, when it comes to the blending of boom boom ingredients

          • No Man’s Land

            I don’t know I’m a state educated chemist myself, I reckon I could still show them a thing or two if it came to it.

            • Terry Field

              Yes, but you DIDN”T did you, because unlike the private boys you don’t see competing as the thing that matters. You are socially well adjusted to the idea of mediocrity.

              • No Man’s Land

                I think that’s probably true, I don’t know if I should feel depressed about that.

                • Terry Field

                  I was not trying to attack or diminish you, simply to make the point that the public school kids are relatively focussed, ruthless, and go for the jugular in order to succeed. They are NOT taught that it is great to fail as long as you ‘try’. That is failure, they are told, and, correctly, find it too painful to experience. And THAT is why they win.

                • No Man’s Land

                  No I understood, I think I agree, it is just all very bleak. When I went to university, one that is dominated by public school kids, I saw this fist hand. The public school kids carry themselves with a confidence, the state school kids apologized for being there.
                  I am not clear whether you approve or disapprove of the ruthless focus taught at public schools.

                • Terry Field

                  Indeed, I had the same experience at a British university.
                  I have one set of grandchildren who attend excellent public (private) schools, and another set who attend local state schools.
                  Both sets of children are intelligent, sharp, normal and full of potential. The difference that is emerging is disturbing. The state school children have a gentle acquiescence; they ‘fit in’. The public school children are extremely outgoing, super-confident, keen and eager for any and every new experience. They seem to live more intensely.
                  The schools are so different when I visit them. The state schools are a sort of passive backdrop to the varied personalities of the children, but the public schools are a great social and intellectual architecture that requires the individual child to do all he or she can to excel, enjoy the experience and to move with confidence and no fear to the next experience.
                  it seems to me that this is the order of things in E`England; the country is not really like a European country; it is more like India. Stratified, and when required, violently so.
                  This is obviously very good for some, and very bad for others.
                  Is there a better way? Only if England becomes something else.

                • colin macdonald

                  Well possibly, although they could just be more accomplished bull****ers.
                  Although until you you can identify and assess the long separated, state educated, identical twins of these paragons you’ll never know the exact impact of their wonderful private education.

                • Terry Field

                  I feel that the data showing that 80% plus of all the serious roles, professions, whatever go to the less than 10% who are privately educated pretty much conclusively proves their overwhelming superiority.

        • Mr B J Mann

          And split the comps into those in areas with no, poor (rich catchment) and good (free access to all in the catchment) grammars.

          Then we can knock the claims about kids suffering from selection on the head.

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    • SunnyD
    • Mary Ann

      It doesn’t really matter if they are Grammars, of course they will get better results they only take the clever children, what matters is the amount of improvement, what comes in and what leaves.

  • MikeBrighton

    Many public schools don’t publish their stats as they know the results are gamed by schools (state and private alike), so I would take the whole think with a huge pinch of salt. For example and famously Eton.
    I pay a king’s ransom my my kids private education (please let me know which one is £20K as it’s not around here!) and I can see with my eyes the results are far far higher than the local state comps.
    It’s hardly surprising that admittance to Oxbridge has increased to state pupils due to the actions of OfFair under Prof Dave Spart sorry Les Ebdon to actively discriminate against public school children. There is plenty of evidence out there that the Oxbridge offers for public vs state are much higher (e.g. Medicine of A*A*A vs AAB). Many think this is fine, but it’s still a fact.

    • Father Todd Untious

      Helicopter parent alert.

      • MikeBrighton

        Right, frankly I don’t have the time and pay for the best education I can afford.

        • Father Todd Untious

          …..and because it is all about you, you can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

          • MikeBrighton

            I really couldn’t give less than a monkey’s toss what you think.

            • Father Todd Untious

              Good. But we think you seek to live vicariously through your kids.

              • MikeBrighton

                I don’t have time, the point of private school (which is a bit sad) is the outsourcing of your childrens education

                • Father Todd Untious

                  They are your children.You should make time. What could be more important? I did. I went part time and took 4 weeks a year unpaid leave to ensure I was available for my kids. But I did not seek to push them in the way you seem so keen to.

                • Tamerlane

                  I think the point he’s making, gone over your head I know, is that because he is more successful than you he can afford to send his children to private school who in turn will be operating on your son’s prostrate one day in the future as a result, for which no need to thank him. You abuse his family if it makes you feel better about your own failure to provide as a father.

                • Father Todd Untious

                  Too busy doing what? Just doing.

                • gunnerbear

                  “….he can afford to send his children to private school who in turn will be operating on your son’s prostrate one day in the future as a result, for which no need to thank him.” And while that surgeon is busy doing his stuff, it’s the lad from a comprehensive that is deep in the ocean maintaining one of the submarines that operates CASD and another lad from the comprehensive has just arrested the burglar responsible for breaking into the surgeons (and other peoples houses).

                • Tamerlane

                  Here! Here! Hear! Hear! and He’er! He’er!

                • gunnerbear

                  ‘Nuff Said! 🙂

                • Sue Smith

                  “What could be more important”? Well, let’s see. Money, freedom, booze, travel, consumer goods, freedom, partying, electronic goods, freebies, cars, movies, freedom, rights, entitlements, freedom….

                  Well, you get the picture of why 40% of university educated German women are childless. And why they have to entertain the third world in their homes.

                • Father Todd Untious

                  Sad but true. Modern parents devote insufficient time to their kids and then virtue signal about the bit of time they do give them.

                • Andrew Cole

                  For once a post of yours I can agree with. Not a class thing though. A lot of kids are at the very closest school to their house no matter how good it is because their parents can’t be arsed with the hassle of a better achieving school a mile or more further down the road.

                • dwarfpoo

                  are you suggesting he home educates? Children are more open to learning in the morning thus core lessons are taught then, not of an eve when parents and children are knackered.

                • Andrew Cole

                  Hence how hard it is to get primary kids to do their homework.

                • dwarfpoo

                  Thus sending children to competent teachers who ensure children are taught well. The majority of parents sending children down a private route are usually supportive of the school.

              • Sue Smith

                You may have been trying to be facetious here, but there’s more than a tad of truth to the comment.

                • Father Todd Untious

                  Not facetious at all. It is well-known that the main reason for sending kids to toff school is how the parents ( and more often the grandparents) see it reflects on their own high opinion of themselves.

                • Tamerlane

                  It’s not well known, it’s your opinion. Opinion v fact, we’ve covered this in the past but I see you’re still struggling with the basic concept (perhaps you just couldn’t afford the fees and feel guilty about it).

                • Andrew Cole

                  So you cannot even consider that someone might send their kid to private school because they are doing what they think is the best for their child’s future? For you it must be down to it being a thing of status for the parent?

                • Father Todd Untious

                  I didn’t say that. I said one if the main reasons. Obviously what you say is another reason.

                • Andrew Cole

                  Yes you did say that. You said:

                  He uses his kids school as yet another status symbol to reference his busy / successful life. It is showing off.

                  Him replying to an article denegrating private schools giving information of his experience is not showing off.

                  If an article says the latest Ferrari is crap and always breaks down and someone replies that it isn’t and theirs never breaks down are they showing off?

                  Is it because it is something expensive that they are talking about that they should keep quiet but someone else can disclose their pleasure with the state schools freely?

                  Why do you hate successful people so much? Get over yourself.

      • Bertie

        @Father Todd,

        He isn’t wrong on all of his claims – For example £20k per year for a private school – laughable. Is the esteemed Fraser talking about Shiplake? Top 10 private schools are all £30-35k per year last time I looked, admittedly that was a year ago.

        • Father Todd Untious

          He means day pupils not boarders.

          • Sue Smith

            Or was that ‘bored-ers”?

          • Bertie

            Ah if it’s Day baording that discount would make sense..

        • Mary Ann

          Which is more than most people earn.

      • gunnerbear

        Hellfire, how rich do you have to be to be able to afford private school and drop them off by helicopter….. 🙂

        • Father Todd Untious

          They dont drop them off, just hover overhead.

    • gunnerbear

      MB, if you don’t mind me asking, roughly which local authority are you in and how much is the education per year? I’m genuinely interested to know. Of course what the author of the piece doesn’t mention is something that is vital to all good schools – parental support. Without parental support in the shape of parents who value education, the school already starts off as vessel taking on water and is more akin to a salvage job rather than a properly functioning ship.

      • MikeBrighton

        West Sussex. School fees around here are
        Brighton College – c.£7,500 day / £12,000 boarding; per term is a good guide to fee levels. Some are slightly lower. A school like Roedean would be higher as would Whitgift or Christs Hospital, but Christs has many children on 100% scholarships.
        Schools like Eaton, Charterhouse, St Pauls or Westminster are more expensive.

        So as a good guide you’re in for about £23K per year day / £36K boarding plus all the extras for a good private school.

        These are senior school fees, prep is slightly lower.

        • gunnerbear

          To put those figures in context, the state secondary school funding per pupil (for your area) is roughly £4,200 per year The spending per head on secondary state schools in my area is around £4,300 per year (and that is across an area where there are pockets of high deprivation). The resource gap between state and private is huge and I think that has an impact on it attainment as well…..selection of candidates for the school plus dedicated parents plus cash is a very potent fuel for driving the ‘school machine’ when it comes to academic attainment.

          • MikeBrighton

            Completely agree.
            I did think that the lifetime funding for state vs private school was about the same though. If you look at the funding per LEA. But happy to stand corrected, probably a private school delusion.
            Private schools are not necessarily selective, some clearly are some are not. Very selective for A level though, A or A* needed to do the subject A level. Some private schools have a reputation for selection / moving kids out etc so their stats are not affected by poorer grades.

            But yes dedicated parents plus cash is potent.
            Also are small class sizes. My son’s senior school is about 20 max average maybe 16 – clearly some subject busier than others. My younger son’s prep school is around 10-13 in a class. Teacher plus TA in each class.

            Also sky high expectations. Expected to get A or A* in each iGCSE, or examination why not.

            • gunnerbear

              Fair comment… is a funny beast though isn’t it? I know it’s anecdotal but one of the richest people I know is a funeral director who owns their own firm and I know didn’t leave school with much ‘paper’…. ….another person I know is probably one of the brightest people I’ve met and doesn’t make a great deal of cash as they are a teacher who works a lot with those children who will always struggle with mainstream education.

              • MikeBrighton

                Yes. A private education won’t make you rich or successful. But it won’t harm either.

                • gunnerbear

                  Fair comment.

            • Father Todd Untious

              You seem to have plenty of time to research toff schools, just no time for your kids.

              • Tamerlane

                What a foul, unpleasant little man you are attacking someone else’s children from the safety of the internet. Low even for your type from the Respect Party.

                • Father Todd Untious

                  How is this attacking anyone, let alone their kids? I am helping him understand. He thought state schools spent the same as private schools. But admits he is too busy to check. You just like to snipe because you bear a grudge.
                  Your only hope now is playground insults.

                • Tamerlane

                  You’re an odious little twerp going after someone’s children like that. Your racism toward Russians and Greeks is one thing but this is below even that belt. When you’ve finished goose stepping around your house in your under pants I’m sure Big George will reward you.

                • Father Todd Untious

                  No. We’ve been over this before. Only you think this. It is a mistaken opinion. Now sadly it just leaves you flailing about and spewing insults. Not one if my posts in anyway decries children. You are reaching new lows ,even by your disgusting standards.

                • Tamerlane

                  No accusation, you are most of those things although I have no recollection of disabled etc (perhaps in your paranoid mind, whatever). It’s just a fact. You should go on a self-improvement course. I wish you luck.

          • HJ777

            I think you’ll find that your figure is for all ages, only for current spend and doesn’t include capital spend. From memory, average total spending per pupil at state schools is around £6000.

            Obviously, independent school fees have to include both capital and current spending.

            Neither do most independent secondary day schools cost anything near £7500/term. £3000-£4000 per term for junior schools and £4000-£5000 for secondary is more typical. Also, bear in mind that the headline fees do not reflect the spending per pupil, which is typically somewhat lower because around a third of pupils receive some sort of financial assistance from the school.

            • gunnerbear

              More than fair comment – I was just using it as rough short hand to be honest to show the gap – and it is significant – in terms of what the state spends and what the private sector spends. I would expect some children to be getting bursaries etc. given how much the private schools scream about their need to be viewed as charities. I still stand by my view though that selection (of any type), supportive parents and cash is the most potent fuel there is for powering the ‘educational machine’.

              • HJ777

                “I would expect some children to be getting bursaries etc. given how much the private schools scream about their need to be viewed as charities.”

                Not all independent schools are charities, of course, and many of those that aren’t also give bursaries and scholarships. One of the girls I coach recently won a sports scholarship to a non-charity independent school – and the school doesn’t even offer the sport in question. She just has to keep doing it outside school.

                The motivation is more to do with raising standards by getting the right intake than it is to do with the supposed need to be viewed as charities. That’s why financial assistance is far more common in independent secondary schools than in prep schools.

        • Father Todd Untious

          At those rates you could afford a personal tutor with a PhD.

        • Father Todd Untious

          Like I said. Can’t wait to tell everyone. It is all about you isn’t it?

          • Tamerlane

            Well he certainly seems to have more to offer than your measly little life.

            • Father Todd Untious

              You seem to devote your life to hounding me. As attested by 70% of your last 100 comments being lame retorts to my posts. One woykd think thisan empty ,pointless effort but for your being a paid Shill.

            • Father Todd Untious

              Trivial shill.

    • Mary Ann

      I attended a dinner at Oxford for the parents of freshers, My son went to a State Grammar and got four As, the other children sitting around us, the products of private schools all had five or six As

  • Vukefalus

    I would hope this excellent news is down to the reforms of the Government’s finest minister, Michael Gove. From what I have seen of his gormless, and slightly spooky, successor, I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of further progress though. Just think what could have been achieved if Cameron had not prematurely removed Give to appease the leftard teacher’s Union. Speaking as an Old MillHillian, I do hope that excellent exam results in the state sector are also equalled by improved manners and behaviors.

    • eat your greens

      Hey Vukefailus, the expression ‘leftard’ is mine to define and you are most welcome to remain a key player in this grouping on your own, and slightly snotty, accord.

    • gunnerbear

      Gove, like just about every SoS Ed. for decades only concentrated on the ‘academic’ side – and the vocational system was ignored. It’s long past time that the UK had a proper tripartite education system so that elite technical education is available as much as elite academic education.

      • Vukefalus

        The vocational side died with the Sec Moderns. Blame Crossland and Williams and fifty years of Comprehensive madness at the expense of the Grammars and preparation of people for work.

        • gunnerbear

          The vocational side was never about the Sec. Moderns. The tripartite system was based on GSs for the academic elite, Sec. Mods (or Comps if you prefer) and elite Technical Schools. Secondary Moderns were never supposed to be about technical education – govts. of all colours don’t like vocational education because it is very, very expensive to do well.

          • Mr B J Mann

            Technical Grammars, or Grammar Technicals……..

            • gunnerbear

              I’m not bothered what you call ’em…..just so long as they are properly funded, run top line courses and are for those children that want to be there and who are capable of being successful there.