Researchers at the Institute of Education at University College London have conducted a study that looks at whether there are any educational advantages to attending private schools in the upper secondary years (Grades 11 and 12).
Published in the Oxford Review of Education, the study used data from the Centre for Longitudinal Studies’ Next Steps cohort study and linked this to national student achievement information between 2005 and 2009. The researchers followed a sample of 5,852 students who attended a private or state school while doing their A levels (high-stakes exams taken at the end of Grade 12, and important for university admission). The findings were:
- The profiles of the two groups of students were very different – students arrived in private school sixth forms with significantly higher prior attainment in GCSEs (exams taken at the end of 10thgrade), and from households that had twice the income of families whose children attended state school sixth form.
- However, the researchers used the data available from Next Steps to allow for socio-demographic characteristics and prior achievement. Allowing for these characteristics, students at private schools outperformed those at state schools in their total A level score by eight percentile points.
- Private school students also performed better on those subjects deemed to be more important to elite universities.
The researchers suggest that the reason for the difference may lie in the vastly superior resources per pupil in private schools (three times the state school average), including smaller pupil-teacher ratios (roughly half the state school average). However, they caution that their results are not truly causal.
Source (Open Access): Henderson, M., Anders, J., Green, F., & Henseke, G. (2019). Private schooling, subject choice, upper secondary attainment and progression to university. Oxford Review of Education, Advance online publication. Doi: 10.1080/03054985.2019.1669551