Girls' Schools Association - Latest Posts for Media & News http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/ This section of the website provides access to the latest news about GSA and recent press and media coverage. For all press enquiries please contact:Rachel Kerr, GSA Communications Manager – rachelkerr@gsa.uk.com en-gb Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:47:27 +0100 Wed, 02 Apr 2014 10:47:27 +0100 “Independent schools are a force for good and save the taxpayer billions” http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/andldquo-independent-schools-are-a-force-for-good/ A group of leading head teachers comment on recent findings For the first time, the contribution of independent schools to the UK economy and the benefits accrued to the British taxpayer have been quantified in an independent report released today. The report, published following months of detailed analysis by Oxford Economics, concludes that the 1,205 schools represented by the Independent Schools Council (‘ISC’) contribute £9.5 billion to the UK economy, more than a city the size of ... Wed, 02 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0100 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/andldquo-independent-schools-are-a-force-for-good/ A group of leading head teachers comment on recent findings

For the first time, the contribution of independent schools to the UK economy and the benefits accrued to the British taxpayer have been quantified in an independent report released today.

The report, published following months of detailed analysis by Oxford Economics, concludes that the 1,205 schools represented by the Independent Schools Council (‘ISC’) contribute £9.5 billion to the UK economy, more than a city the size of Liverpool. Furthermore, these independent schools support over 220,000 jobs and pay £3.6 billion in taxes.

Most striking of all is the finding that the 470,000 pupils educated in ISC schools save British taxpayers £3.0 billion a year, or £110 for every household.

Commenting on the findings, Alice Phillips, President of the Girls’ Schools Association, whose schools make up a significant number of those surveyed, said:

“For a while now, the true value of independent schools, to our economy, both nationally and locally, and the pockets of British taxpayers has been unquantified. I am delighted that Oxford Economics has finally enabled us to support what those of us who work in the sector have always known: independent schools are a force for good and save the taxpayer billions.”

Charlotte Vere, Executive Director of the GSA, added:
“It is time to stop the ill-conceived and thoughtless attacks on independent schools. This report provides conclusive evidence that independent schools play a key role in our local and national economies, supporting jobs and boosting the UK’s success. And as importantly, parents choosing an independent education for their child, save the British taxpayer £3.0 billion a year.”

The Oxford Economics report shows the economic footprint of Independent Schools Council (‘ISC’) schools. It measures their contribution to GDP, employment and national tax revenues; savings to the taxpayer by not having to provide state-funded education for ISC pupils; and the additional value to the British economy arising from high standards of academic performance by independently-educated pupils.

The report contains examples of how schools impact on their local economies through employment, supplier contracts – such as for school catering – and in their partnerships with state schools and universities.
Key findings include:

  • The 1,205 ISC schools in Britain support a £9.5 billion gross value added contribution to Britain’s GDP. By way of comparison, this is larger than the size of the economy of the city of Liverpool and also exceeds the BBC’s gross value added contribution, estimated recently at £8.3 billion.
  • ISC schools support 227,200 jobs across Britain, equivalent to one in every 122 people in employment. Every 2.1 pupils at an ISC school support one person in employment in Britain.
  • ISC schools generate £3.6 billion in tax revenues for the Exchequer, equivalent to £133 for every household in Britain.
  • For every £1 that schools contribute to the British economy, they generate 98p in the rest of the British economy through the supply chain and wage consumption impacts. This means that the independent sector has the same multiplier effect as the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Projecting these results to the entire independent sector (so as to include those schools which are not ISC schools) produces an estimated contribution of £11.7 billion to GDP, 275,700 jobs and tax revenues of £4.7 billion.
  • The 1,205 ISC schools in Britain educate approximately 470,000 pupils who are entitled to, but do not take up, a place at a state school. This results in an annual saving to the taxpayer of £3.0 billion – the equivalent of building more than 460 new free schools each year.

Information from all GSA schools are included in the data used by Oxford Economics in their analysis. The report contains a number of examples of contributions by Girls’ Schools Association schools. A copy of the report is available here. A copy of the ISC news release is available here.

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ISC responds to The Higher Education Funding Council for England report, ‘Schooling effects on higher education achievement’ http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/isc-responds-to-the-higher-education-funding-counc/ The Independent Schools Council speaks for GSA and other independent schools in its comments on the latest report on the impact of schooling on students’ achievements in higher education. ‘Welcome confirmation’ of the strength of performance of independent schools pupils as they progress to Higher Education Today’s report, the second in less than 12 months from HEFCE to look at schooling effects, provides welcome confirmation of the strength of performance of former independent schoo... Fri, 28 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/isc-responds-to-the-higher-education-funding-counc/ The Independent Schools Council speaks for GSA and other independent schools in its comments on the latest report on the impact of schooling on students’ achievements in higher education.

‘Welcome confirmation’ of the strength of performance of independent schools pupils as they progress to Higher Education

Today’s report, the second in less than 12 months from HEFCE to look at schooling effects, provides welcome confirmation of the strength of performance of former independent schools pupils as they progress to Higher Education.

HEFCE’s report shows that 67.0% of former independent school pupils achieved an upper second or above, compared to 62.3% of pupils at all other schools and further education colleges.

The report shows that “independent school students enter higher education with better A-level grades than those from state schools” and confirms that “students with better A-levels do better in higher education”.

More than one half of all ISC pupils’ A-levels were awarded the highest grades (51.3% at A* or A in summer 2013) and HEFCE’s report today confirms that these high performing pupils will progress to be the highest performing students at university, achieving a first or upper second class degree.
HEFCE’s broader report in July 2013 also concluded that students who had attended an independent school prior to university outperformed students from state schools against three additional benchmarks. As well as looking at achieving a first or upper second class degree, HEFCE’s 2013 report considered the rates of: achieving a degree; achieving a degree and continuing to employment or further study; and achieving a degree and continuing to graduate employment (as opposed to any employment) or further study.

HEFCE concluded in July 2013 that “A greater percentage of students who attended an independent school prior to university achieved each of the four outcomes compared with students from state schools”.

Regardless of these positive conclusions for independent pupils, ISC and the GSA/HMC Universities Committee continue to believe that analysis of the performance of students by school type is fundamentally misguided. Treating the type of school attended as a proxy for advantage or disadvantage is flatly contradictory to the principle of fair access, which The Office of Fair Access describes as ”equality of opportunity for all those who have the potential to benefit from higher education, irrespective of their background, schooling or income” (our emphasis).

It is particularly flawed when no distinction is drawn between types of state school (selective grammar schools and schools with fully comprehensive intake are lumped together) and no account taken of children from deprived backgrounds who are educated free of charge at independent schools.

Chris Ramsey, Headmaster of The King’s School Chester and co-Chair of the GSA/HMC Universities Committee commented as follows:
“We welcome research into attainment at Higher Education, but we agree with Alan Milburn: ‘school type’ is a misleading category in such research, because there are huge disparities of socio-economic circumstances among pupils in all kinds of school.
“In this latest study, HEFCE conclude that the majority of ISC school pupils, who have already gained the highest grades at A-level, will perform to the highest levels at degree level. This is hardly a startling conclusion.
“HEFCE’s previous study confirms that, on all key measures, independent school pupils at university perform way beyond expectation, most especially when it comes to securing graduate-level employment.”

Barnaby Lenon, Chairman of ISC commented as follows:
“It is widely recognised by serious researchers into school education that dividing the school population into ‘state’ and ‘private’ is too crude to yield anything of value. Our schools have been signed up to an agenda of fair access for decades, as is demonstrated by the fact that one third of Oxford University’s bursary students are alumni of independent schools. The majority of our pupils’ A-levels were graded A or A* last summer and we note that HEFCE, despite their best efforts, are unable to show that our pupils did less well at university than other groups.”

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‘The truth is different’ – GSA/HMC survey of university access http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/the-truth-is-different-andndash-gsa-hmc-survey-of/ In his blog for the Sutton Trust, co-chair of the GSA/HMC University Access Committee, Chris Ramsey reveals the results of a recent survey into higher education access. He says:Our sample of about 10 per cent of their applicants is small, but robust. The analysis is also detailed, so that we are able to hold to account the offices of the country’s top two universities in a way no-one else does. Not just for ourselves: we don’t just want our candidates to be successful, we want all good ... Thu, 27 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/the-truth-is-different-andndash-gsa-hmc-survey-of/ In his blog for the Sutton Trust, co-chair of the GSA/HMC University Access Committee, Chris Ramsey reveals the results of a recent survey into higher education access.

He says:
Our sample of about 10 per cent of their applicants is small, but robust. The analysis is also detailed, so that we are able to hold to account the offices of the country’s top two universities in a way no-one else does. Not just for ourselves: we don’t just want our candidates to be successful, we want all good applicants to have a good experience, and for the system to identify the best candidates efficiently and sensitively.

More importantly, our surveys of what our schools do to support university entrance provides pretty impressive evidence of partnerships between the independent and maintained sector. This year, we asked 148 leading independent schools, representing 3,719 Oxbridge applications – about 10% of Oxbridge applications this year, whether they helped any maintained school pupils with preparation for top universities.

You might expect businesses to share facilities with the community, but would you expect them to share commercial confidences? In fact, 83 of our 148 schools gave detailed examples of regular, serious and free programmes aimed at helping state school pupils to get into those top universities. 46 schools – a third of those polled – give free practice interviews to local state school pupils.

Read the full blog.

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Twitter and text not GR8 for English skills, warns GSA head http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/twitter-and-text-not-gr8-for-english-skills-warns/ GSA head Caroline Jordan has spoken out about the dangers of using abbreviations and slang in text messages and on Twitter. She says: “Our English skills are constantly on display, often making the difference between landing a job and having a misspelled application filed in the bin. With the continuing reliance on technology, ‘textspeak’ is eroding hard-learned skills in such basic areas as spelling and grammar. Perhaps this is the area we should be seeking to protect above all e... Thu, 27 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/twitter-and-text-not-gr8-for-english-skills-warns/ GSA head Caroline Jordan has spoken out about the dangers of using abbreviations and slang in text messages and on Twitter.

She says: “Our English skills are constantly on display, often making the difference between landing a job and having a misspelled application filed in the bin. With the continuing reliance on technology, ‘textspeak’ is eroding hard-learned skills in such basic areas as spelling and grammar. Perhaps this is the area we should be seeking to protect above all else. A command of our own language in today’s competitive world is essential.”

Caroline Jordan is head of Headington School in Oxford and also chairs the GSA education committee.

Her comments are reported in
The Times
Mail Online
Oxford Mail
BBC Radio 2 (at 51:38)

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GSA School Launches Biomedical Science Training Programme http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/gsa-school-launches-biomedical-science-training-pr/ Moreton Hall’s new medical science laboratory is equipped with technologies that are typically used only in university-level medical research laboratories.The school aims to use its new facilities and equipment to offer continual stretch and enjoyment to students who have an interest in applying for biomedical courses at university, irrespective of whether or not they are Moreton Hall students. Their new intensive residential summer course for students moving into Year 13/Upper 6th be... Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/gsa-school-launches-biomedical-science-training-pr/ Moreton Hall’s new medical science laboratory is equipped with technologies that are typically used only in university-level medical research laboratories.
The school aims to use its new facilities and equipment to offer continual stretch and enjoyment to students who have an interest in applying for biomedical courses at university, irrespective of whether or not they are Moreton Hall students.

Their new intensive residential summer course for students moving into Year 13/Upper 6th begins this summer. The objective is to give students the opportunity to immerse themselves – without distractions – in a week-long programme of practical learning to help prepare them for making an exceptional UCAS application the following year.

The course is supported by Keele University Medical School, is residential at Moreton and open to exceptional boys and girls from Britain and around the world.

GSA schools have an excellent record of inspiring girls to study STEM subjects to advanced level. Girls at GSA schools are 75% more likely to take maths A level, 70% more likely to take chemistry and are two and a half times more likely to study A level physics (read more)

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Plans to de-couple the AS from the A Level are short sighted http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/plans-to-de-couple-the-as-from-the-a-level-are-sho/ In an article The Telegraph, 27/2/14 Alice Phillips, President of the Girls’ Schools Association and Headmistress of St Catherine’s, Bramley offers a compelling argument in favour of keeping the AS exam… No one likes sitting exams and teachers aren’t that keen on the exam treadmill either. But I’d much rather the A Level consisted of two exams – the AS and A2 – than we returned to a linear qualification with one ‘make or break’ end of course exam. In fact, I’d go as f... Wed, 26 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0000 http://www.gsa.uk.com/news/plans-to-de-couple-the-as-from-the-a-level-are-sho/ In an article The Telegraph, 27/2/14 Alice Phillips, President of the Girls’ Schools Association and Headmistress of St Catherine’s, Bramley offers a compelling argument in favour of keeping the AS exam…

No one likes sitting exams and teachers aren’t that keen on the exam treadmill either. But I’d much rather the A Level consisted of two exams – the AS and A2 – than we returned to a linear qualification with one ‘make or break’ end of course exam. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that plans to de-couple the AS from the A Level are positively punitive: a retrograde step, undoing at a stroke all the good that was achieved by the quiet and effective review of A Level in 2000.

Pull the AS away from the A Level and you are effectively implying to a large number of students nationwide, no, you’re not good enough even to think about A Levels. Whilst that may turn out to be true for some, the current system at least gives them the opportunity to have a crack at it and surprise themselves and possibly their teachers too. They can get an AS under their belt before gathering themselves for the next stage, whether that’s continuing with the A2 and that ultimate A Level or walking away with an AS qualification in their pocket. It is therefore also a system ideally suited to the higher school leaving age and thus it makes no sense to lose it now.

In this respect, the AS is also a great enabler of social mobility. Without that half-way staging post, many of the young people who now have A Level qualifications and are heading off to university and bright futures may not even have had the confidence to embark on a two year course of academic study. When it comes to encouraging young people and making sure they’re not consigned to a particular path too early in life, the current A Level study path is a huge improvement on the linear model.

Another aspect of the current A Level that works well is the freedom to study four subjects at AS before narrowing the choice to three at A2 or even continuing with four. In my experience, not having to choose those final three A Level subjects too early makes for happier and therefore much more engaged sixth formers. The reasons are many: it allows students to study three subjects for university and another one or two for interest; crucially, it removes the career damaging pattern of the old days when one subject proved to be the wrong one yet the student was obliged to soldier on, inevitably to a lesser grade, and thus to lesser career prospects; it keeps a wider range of university or career options open for longer until students can see which subject they really wish to study at university; it enables those who change their mind mid-course to do so with minimal upheaval; and it results in a broader education without sacrificing the depth that comes in that final A2 year. Let us not forget that it is that depth that makes A Level the Gold Standard of qualifications and highly respected worldwide.

I pity the students who, in 2015, will have to move from a modular GCSE to a long two year programme of A Level study, if plans to change to the linear model go ahead. Not only will they have the challenge of shifting gear to a higher level of study that all students at this stage must contend with – nothing wrong with that – but they will also have to make a complete turnaround in study patterns, from the modular approach they know to the yawning two year stretch ahead of them with little intermediate benchmarking and no previous experience of pacing themselves over such a long time span.

Given this situation, common sense suggests that we need to allow a period of time for the much needed strengthening of the national GCSEs to bed in first. With sure outcomes evident at 16+, that would be the time to look again at AS and A2. Change at both levels in so short a time will see one generation of students becoming guinea pigs for all the changes and potentially facing the adverse effects across their entire school CVs.

Let’s not overlook, either, the fact that universities like the AS. It’s an early signpost to how all students will perform in the longer term and has proved itself the very reliable basis of many offers. Conversely, it also gives students themselves an indication of how they’re performing and can be extremely helpful when they decide where to apply.

Cambridge University has now stated several times that it believes the AS to be ‘the single most effective predictor of a student’s future performance when studying for their degree’. Without it, universities must make their offers based on GCSE performance which is a year out of date by the time students make their applications and taken at a less mature stage in a young person’s development. Without AS grades, schools will also cite, in UCAS references, the results of their own Year 12 exams which will be of varying standard and cannot possibly be marked uniformly. A2 predictions will be less dependable and some schools will come under acute parental or student pressure to overinflate their grade predictions.

I find myself asking why we are still trying to fix something that already works. I understand the desire to get students off the exam treadmill – though all our competitor countries which, apparently, outperform us in international tables, have rigorous assessment schedules for their students every year and sometimes more frequently.

I also support rigorous enquiry and study. More of the latter could easily be achieved by the gradual development of the AS content. This can happen when they follow on from the new rigorous GCSEs. Then place the AS examinations in June rather than May, interspersed with the A2, providing teachers with a further six weeks of teaching time. Ask most teachers, and that is their main complaint about AS.

Why can this not happen now? Shortage of examiners would be pleaded. This, too, can be addressed by creating Licensed Teacher Examiners, marking scripts intensively during the school day and based in schools. The Girls’ Schools Association, along with ASCL and HMC, is already working with the OCR to trial such a system this summer. It could revolutionise and restore confidence in a system which, in recent years, has come under significant pressure because of examiner shortage and low morale.

Scrapping the two stage A Level will harm more students than it will help. Instead, we need to recognise that the existing A Level is already doing a pretty good job of delivering rigour and concentrate on making what we already have the best it can possibly be.

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