Telegraph cheers success of state schools, but has it fudged the figures?

Aug 22, 2015 by

Telegraph’s headline ‘State schools put private schools in the shade’ only works if you look at the results in a certain light. Does the paper have another agenda?

Hold the front page: it turns out that the best state schools in England are genuinely very good – and even as good as their famous independent peers. This won’t surprise the families of children who for many years have attended state schools and received an excellent education. But it appears to have come as a shock to the editors of the the Daily Telegraph and Spectator – hence the headline “State pupils put private schools in the shade”.

Yet the chairman of the Independent Schools Council, Barnaby Lenon, called the comparison “grossly unfair”. While appeals to fairness jar coming from an organisation whose schools charge £12,000 a year per pupil, he has a point. What the Spectator and Telegraph have done is crudely compare the top 500 state sixth forms with almost every private school that offers A-levels. The research involved a few simple clicks on the Department for Education’s performance tables.

Admissions to sixth form are selective in the state sector, and for the best schools it is highly competitive. Private schools, on the other hand, admit primarily on the basis of disposable income – and there are a limited number of families who can afford the £15,000 to £30,000 that independent schools charge.

The result is a competition between state schools that select on academic ability and private schools that select on parental income. And guess what? Selecting bright kids for free turns out to be a better way of filling your school with kids who get top results.

Source: Telegraph cheers success of state schools, but has it fudged the figures? | Education | The Guardian

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