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Independent schools increase academic outcome

“It is not surprising to see the results of the research from Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University, telling us that attending an independent school increases academic outcome at age 16 by on average 0.64 grade in every subject studied at GCSE.

“Of course, it is not clear which factors found in most good independent schools would account for this. Is it for example, the smaller class sizes, teachers who are specialists in the subject they are expected to teach, higher behaviour expectations and tolerance, or a more constructive work ethos throughout the school? Probably all of these (and other factors not listed) will improve pupil outcomes, with different children benefitting from each in a slightly different way.

“Occasionally I am asked, when is the best time to start independent education, at age four, or wait until secondary school? To me, that is a difficult question to answer as I am aware of the financial commitment of an independent education for the majority of our parents, who work hard to enable their children to benefit from what we can offer. From experience, I know that the older a child is when they come to Pitsford School, generally the further behind they are, particularly in literacy and numeracy, the foundations of all future study.

“It was therefore interesting to see that this research seemed to imply that the quality of primary education actually has a bigger effect on GCSE outcomes than that of secondary schooling. Therefore, I will be changing my advice from “it depends” to “get your child into a good independent junior school as soon as you possibly can”, as it makes a significant difference to their academic success much further down the line than most parents are even thinking about until it’s too late. And since the fees at most independent junior school are usually less than the cost of pre-school care, parents can be confident that they are able to manage the financial side of the investment in their child’s education,” said Noel Toone, Headmaster at Pitsford School.

The full article appears in today’s national newspapers and more information is available at

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