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Private schools' top marks praised

Private school pupils scored four times as many top grades in their GCSEs and IGCSEs this summer as teenagers across the country, figures show.

Almost a third (32%) of all entries from students at fee-paying schools achieved an A* grade, according to data published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC). This has risen by one percentage point on last year.

The figures come the week after national results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland showed a drop in the proportion of all entries awarded the very top grade - with 8.2% scoring an A* this year compared to 8.3% in 2012.

These figures include GCSE and IGCSE (international GCSEs) results as many private schools now opt for the latter qualification.

In total, IGCSEs now account for nearly a third (32%) of exam entries among privately educated 16-year-olds, up from 24.9% last year, while pupils are taking fewer GCSEs. On average, each pupil achieved two A* grades and seven As in their results.

Westminster School in central London scored the best grades, coming top in a new league table of private schools' GCSE and IGCSE results, based on the ISC's data. In total, 98.16% of the school's exam entries were awarded an A or A*, with 100% gaining at least a C.

The school, which was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, takes boys only between the ages of 13 and 16, and admits girls as well into its sixth form. In second place this year was North London Collegiate School, a girls-only school, where 97.94% of exam entries were awarded at least an A grade, and 99.9% of entries achieved a C or higher.

Girls' schools dominated this year's private school GCSE and IGCSE table, occupying seven spots in the top 10, along with two boys' schools and one mixed.

ISC chairman Barnaby Lenon said he was delighted with the results.

"It is remarkable that the proportion of entries awarded grade A* has risen, bucking the national trend where there has been a fall in the proportion attaining the top grade," he said. "Also noteworthy is that the typical ISC student achieves 2 A*s and 7As, providing the perfect springboard on which they can continue their education at A-level this autumn."

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