The Times Parent Power survey shows state schools closing the gap on independents

According to The Sunday Times Parent Power Schools Guide 2019 UK schools' scores are up nationally showing an overall improvement in standards with leading state schools showing the biggest improvements.

Students look into microscope
New targets for schools, brought in by Michael Gove in 2016, initially received criticism from parents and education professions for being too tough. After an initial downturn in results schools and students have responded well to the stronger targets.

State schools closing the gap on independents

The overall trend is that leading state schools are closing the gap on independent schools.Independent schools were not obliged to go along with the government changes and the Independent Schools Council figures showed that the percentage of privately educated pupils gaining GCSE grades was unchanged from previous years.For the 2016 GCSE results 79 schools scored "exceptional performance", of which 63 were independent schools and 16 state schools, this year the number of state schools more than doubled to 38.In addition to grammars, ten of the leading non-grammar state-funded schools have increased their proportion of top grades by 47% over two years.

The UK's regional divide

State sectors results vary regionally and of the top 500 state school, 275 were in London and the south, whilst only 15 were in the northeast.The divide is mirrored in student GCSE results.The divide will be in part a reflection of the higher concentration of selective grammar schools in the south and east of the UK whilst there are none in the north-east.

London schools success mimic inequality of the capital

London schools very successful, with six of the top 10.However finding places at London secondary schools, both state and independent, is highly competitive.London has some of the best and worst schools in the UK reflecting the disparity between the standard of living for different city residents.Ten of the 20 highest-achieving independent schools in the UK are located in London, and nine of the top 20 state schools.For example Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet, received 2,400 applications for 180 places. This means that of those who achieved the grades, four out of five left disappointed.The tough competition has helped drive the independent schools market around London.Many of these top independent schools are single-sex, and many of the top schools achieve stellar grades where 90% of A-level grades are at A*, A and B and 90% of GCSE grades at A*/A or 9, 8 and 7 is standard.
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Schools of the year

The independent secondary school of the year was Brighton College, which has made huge progress rising from 136th place in 2005 to 7th in 2018.Brighton is a co-education school and has been named as the "most forward thinking school" in the country.Much of the change was driven by a focus on recruiting the best young teachers available, often direct from Oxbridge colleges, and training them in-house.Such is the success of Brighton College that it is attracting students away from more traditional schools such as Eton, and rumours are that Prince George may be joining the school at 13.The state secondary school of he year was Wilson's School, Wallington, an all boys grammar on the outskirts of South London.The school is gained a reputation for it's outstanding grades which deputy head Cole credits to excellent staff, with, "highly motivated and clever" students, and the approach that "intelligence will get them (the students) so far but hard work will take them the distance".
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