Data-Based Insight: Do Private School Students Earn Higher Grades?

In the diverse landscape of education, the debate between the merits of private versus public schooling remains a topic of heated discussion among parents, educators, and policymakers alike. At the heart of this debate is a fundamental question: “Do Private School Kids Get Better Grades?” This article delves into the intricacies of private education, exploring the factors that might contribute to the academic outcomes of its students.

What Are Private Schools?

The Spectrum of Schooling Options

In the UK, the education system is comprised of several types of schools, each with its own funding mechanisms, governance, and educational philosophies. Understanding these differences is key to grasping the unique position that private schools hold within this system.

  • State Schools: Funded by the government, these schools are free for all students. They follow the National Curriculum and are the most common type of school in the UK.
  • Grammar Schools: A subset of state schools, grammar schools select their students based on academic ability, usually through an entrance exam known as the 11-plus.
  • Private Schools: Also known as independent schools, private schools are funded through tuition fees paid by parents and sometimes, endowments. They are not required to follow the National Curriculum, allowing them greater flexibility in their educational approach.

What Sets Private Schools Apart

Private schools are distinguished by several features that set them apart from their state-funded counterparts:

  • Customised Curriculum: With the freedom to stray from the National Curriculum, private schools often offer a wider range of subjects and tailor their teaching to more closely align with the needs and interests of their students.
  • Facilities and Resources: Typically, private schools boast superior facilities and resources, from state-of-the-art science labs to extensive sports fields.
  • Class Size: One of the hallmark features of private education is the smaller class size, which facilitates more individualised attention and support for each student.

Level of Teaching at Private Schools

The calibre of teaching in private schools is often cited as a key factor in their students’ academic success. This is attributed to several factors:

  • Qualifications: Teachers in private schools often possess higher qualifications and more specialised expertise in their subject areas.
  • Personalised Attention: The lower student-to-teacher ratio in private schools allows for a more personalised teaching approach, catering to the individual learning styles and needs of students.

Do Private School Kids Get Better Grades?

The evidence suggests that, on average, private school students do achieve higher grades than their counterparts in state schools. This can be attributed to a combination of factors:

  • Focused Supervision: The closer supervision of students in private schools can lead to fewer behavioural issues and more effective teaching environments.
  • Smaller Class Sizes: With fewer students per class, teachers can give more individualised attention, helping to identify and address learning gaps more efficiently.

Analysis of Ofqual Research

Recent Ofqual research provides valuable insights into the academic outcomes of students from different types of educational institutions. By examining A-level results across various subjects, the research sheds light on the performance disparities between private, state, and grammar schools. Particularly, the research aims to compare the current grading standards to those before the pandemic, offering a meaningful perspective on recent academic achievements.

Analysis of Ofqual Research

A Return to Pre-Pandemic Grading Standards

The Ofqual research aimed at scrutinising the A-level results across various subjects, offering an invaluable lens through which to view the academic performance across different school types. With a focus on returning to pre-pandemic grading standards, the summer 2023 examination results are pivotal in understanding how the shift affects students from private, state, and grammar schools.

  • Comparative Analysis: By juxtaposing the 2023 results with those from 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, the research provides a clear picture of the grading landscape and its evolution over the years.
  • Subject-Specific Outcomes: The granular analysis across subjects like Mathematics, English, and Science highlights the nuanced differences in academic achievements, potentially influenced by the type of institution.

What the Data Reveals

The cumulative percentage data from the research offers insightful revelations about grade distributions across different types of educational institutions. Key findings might include:

  • Higher Grade Thresholds: Private schools tend to have a higher percentage of students achieving top grades (A and above), suggesting a possible advantage in academic performance.
  • Subject-Specific Excellence: Certain subjects may exhibit more pronounced differences in grade outcomes, potentially reflecting the specialised focus or resources available in private schools.

Table: Percentage of Students Achieving A and Above in 2023 by Centre Type

Centre Type % Achieving A and Above in 2023
Academies 25.4%
Free Schools 34.8%
Further Education Establishment 14.2%
Independent School (Including City Training Colleges and Services) 47.4%
Other 23.4%

Why Cambridge School Online?

Cambridge School Online stands as a testament to the excellence that can be achieved within the realm of private education. Catering to a global audience, this institution embodies the principles that often lead to higher academic achievements among private school students.

Academic Achievements

The remarkable success of Cambridge School Online’s students is evidenced by their outstanding grades and university placements:

  • Top 4% Achievement: The school’s grades place it within the top 4% of British Independent Private schools, marking it as a leading choice for academically focused families.
  • Exceptional GCSE and A-Level Results: With a significant percentage of GCSE grades at A*/A and a history of high-achieving A-Level students, Cambridge School Online demonstrates the effectiveness of its teaching methodologies and curriculum.
  • University Offers: The fact that 100% of A-Level students received offers from top universities, including offers from prestigious institutions like Cambridge, underscores the school’s role in preparing students for higher education success.

A Global Learning Community

Cambridge School Online’s approach to education extends beyond academic excellence, fostering a global community where students can engage with peers and educators from around the world. This international perspective enriches the learning experience, preparing students for the increasingly globalised world.


The debate over whether private school kids get better grades is multifaceted, with numerous factors contributing to the overall academic outcomes. While the data and case studies like Cambridge School Online suggest a positive correlation between private education and higher grades, it’s crucial to consider the individual needs and circumstances of each student when evaluating the best educational path.

The commitment to smaller class sizes, personalised attention, and high-quality teaching in institutions like Cambridge School Online exemplifies the potential benefits of private schooling. However, the ultimate goal should always be to provide an environment where every student can thrive academically and personally, regardless of the type of school they attend.


What distinguishes private schools from state and grammar schools?

Private schools, often known as independent schools, are distinct due to their funding through tuition fees and possibly endowments, unlike state schools which are government-funded and free for all students. They have the autonomy to deviate from the National Curriculum, offering a broader range of subjects and a curriculum tailored to their students’ needs.

How does the smaller class size in private schools impact education?

The reduced student-to-teacher ratio in private schools is a fundamental aspect that allows for more personalised attention and support for each student. This environment facilitates a more individualised teaching approach, potentially leading to better academic outcomes.

Are private school teachers more qualified than their public school counterparts?

Private school educators often hold higher qualifications and have specialised expertise in their subject areas, contributing significantly to the academic success of their students by catering to individual learning styles and needs.

Do students in private schools generally achieve higher grades than those in public schools?

Evidence suggests that students in private schools tend to receive higher grades on average than those in public schools. Factors contributing to this include more focused supervision, smaller class sizes allowing for individualised attention, and a more effective teaching environment with fewer behavioural issues.

What insights do the Ofqual research findings offer about academic outcomes in different types of schools?

Ofqual’s research, especially the comparison of A-level results before and after the pandemic, highlights the performance disparities between private, state, and grammar schools. It reveals that private schools often have a higher percentage of students achieving top grades, which could be attributed to factors like specialised focus and superior resources.

Recommended Posts