Top 10

Top 10s in each education sector for getting to university

Top independent schools for hard A levels

Not all A-levels are created equal. Some are tougher than others. It is generally accepted that Further Maths and Physics are among the hardest, if not the hardest.  The problem with  tables that rank schools by A level results is that they do not take account of the A level mix, which makes it difficult to judge which schools are producing the best results in the sciences.  The data already published by the Department for Education, (results in 2011), makes it possible to rank schools on the basis of  A* stars in Further Maths and physics.

The list is not comprehensive, because it does not include schools that mainly do the International Baccalaureate (IB), such as Sevenoaks School and King’s School, Wimbledon. Winchester College and Charterhouse School are also missing because they do the pre-u.

In the main, the must successful schools are the traditional, seriously selective boys’ schools in membership of  The Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference, (HMC).   The exception is Concord College in Acton Burell, Shrewsbury, a small co-educational boarding school with a high proportion of pupils from Hong Kong and China. Its A* results in Further Maths in 2011, (30 A* s), put it on a par with Westminster School.  Tom Lawrence, the school’s academic vice-principal,  says pupils coming Hong Kong and China see maths as the most important subject. They arrive at the school at 16 two years’ ahead in maths of their UK couterparts. Bellerby’s College, a tutorial college, which also draws students from Hong Kong and China,  had 23 students that achieved  A* in Further Maths.

The other schools at the top are all boys’ schools: Westminster School, (it takes girls in the sixth-form),  St Paul’s School in Barnes, London;  the Royal Grammar School in Surrey and Eton College. .

Westminster School’s results are remarkable, even given its  intake.  Two-thirds of its physics A level group  of 53 achieved an A*.  Its A* results in Further Maths were only outdone by Concord College. Westminster School, St Paul”s, Eton College and the Royal Grammar School in Surrey are highly ranked in both subjects.

For parents of girls, the choice of schools in the top ten is limited. Concord College is a co-educational boarding school. Westminster takes girls in the sixth form. Magdalen College School in Oxford and Brighton College in Brighton, two schools in the top ten for Further Maths, are co-educational.  The only co-educational school in  the physics list is The King”s School in Chester.

There are state schools that do as well as the top independents. The school with highest number of A*s in Further maths is Hills Road Sixth Fform college in Cambridge. It had 111 sixth-formers take Further maths; 35 achieved an A*: 26 in physics. Three other sixth-form colleges and 4 grammar schools had results that compare with the best in the independent sector. Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in  Bromley, Kent   racked up 22 A* in Further maths; 13 in physics. Runshaw Sixth-form College in Leyland, Lancashire,  had 21 A*s in Further maths and 18 A*s in physics. St Olave”s and St Savoir”s School, the grammar in Bromley, Kent, that hit the headlines when Labour MP Harriet Harman sent her son to the school, racked up 19 A*s in Further maths and 15 A*s in physics.






Top ten independent schools for Further Maths*


Source: Department for Education: Further Maths A level results in 2011

1 Concord College, Shrewsbury, Shropshire                              30 (50)

2 Westminster School, Westminster , London                            29 (51)

2 St Paul”s School, Barnes, London                                               29 (43)

2 Eton College,  Windsor, Berkshire                                             29 ( 58)

5 Royal Grammar School, Guildford, Surrey                                 25 ( 32)

6 Bellerby”s College                                                                              23 ( 33)

7 Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, Kent                                            19 ( 33)

8 Haberdashers” Aske”s Boys” School, Boreham Wod, Herts   17  (23)

9 Brighton College, Brighton                                                            16 (  33)

9 Magdalen Collge School, Oxford                                                   16 ( 25)

* Number in bracket is the total number of students that sat the exam.



Top ten indepedent schools for physics

A*s in 2011: Figure in bracket is total number taking the exam.


1 Westminster School, Westminster, London                      36  ( 53)

2 Royal Grammar School, Guildford                                      26 ( 57)

3 Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, Kent                                    25 ( 48)

3  Eton College, Windsor                                                          25 (61)

5 St Paul”s School, Barnes, London                                       21  (43)

6  Hampton School, Hampton, Middlesex                          18 ( 46)

6 The Perse School,  Cambridge                                            18 ( 39)

8 Concord College, Shrewsbury, Shropshire                        16 (57)

9 Haberdashers” Aske”s Boys                                                  15 ( 34)

10 The King”s School, Cheshire                                               14  37)













Top ten independent schools for Oxbridge

Boris Johnson’s dad, Stanley, is smart enough to know that if you send your children to the right school you maximise their chances of getting to Oxford or Cambridge.

When the Daily Mail asked how he managed to get all six of his children to Oxbridge, he said:  “It never struck me that was particularly remarkable. What do you expect if you send your kids to Eton and St Paul’s?”

Not much has changed since Boris and his siblings went to university. The top  ten is dominated by the traditional, seriously expensive boys” schools.  Eton College and St Paul’s School  rank top and third in the Oxbridge stakes, (though Boris’s dad might have meant St Paul’s Girls’ School  where Boris’s sister, Rachel, did her A-levels),  ranked sixth.

The two schools that send the most sixth-formers to Oxbridge are Westminster School, the alma mater of Nick Clegg,  deputy Prime Minister and leader of  the Liberal Democrats, and Eton College. which has educated a long line of prime ministers, including David Cameron.  Westminster is the most expensive boys’ day school in London – almost a quarter of its intake is boarders who pay even more.  Girls are admitted only in the sixth-form.

Their closest rival is St Paul’s School, famous old boy, George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, (53) to Oxbridge.  King”s School Wimbledon, a boys” day school in  south London is listed fourth.  It used to do only the International Baccalaureate, (IB), but has now reintroduced A Level, alongside the IB. Winchester College, a boy”s boarding school in Winchester, is fifth.  The two girls” day schools in the list are St Paul”s Girls and North London Collegiate School. The only co-educational schools are Sevenoaks School in Kent, an International Baccalaureate (IB) trailblazer, and Magdalen College School in Oxford.







  • School                                                                                                  Oxford           Cambridge


Eton College, Windsor                                           76                                     52                          24

Westminster School, Westminster                     75                                      37                          38

St Paul”s School, Barnes                                        53                                     30                           23

King”s College School, Wimbledon                     39                                      21                           18

Winchester College, Winchester                          37                                      21                           18

St Paul”s Girls,  Hammersmith                            35                                      22                            13

North London Collegiate School, Edgware      35                                      18                            17

Magdalen College School. Oxford                      31                                       14                            17

Sevenoaks School, Sevenoaks                             30                                       9                              21

Tonbridge School, Tonbridge                             30                                      12                             18

Royal Grammar School, Guildford                     30                                   12                               18











Top ten state schools for Oxbridge

Michael Gove argues that if schools raised the aspirations of their pupils lots more poor children would end up at Oxford and Cambridge. The reality is that only a handful of state schools and colleges send pupils in any numbers to Oxbridge.  There are four successful sixth-form colleges that admit large numbers of 16-year-olds and have the critical mass to prepare a proportion for Oxbridge. Two are in affluent areas – Hills Road in Cambridge and Peter Symonds in Winchester.

Apart from sixth-form colleges, the other schools that sent 20 or more to Oxbridge last autumn  are grammars. All are in the south-east.

The latest figures reveal that the top ten  state schools for Oxbridge are four sixth-form colleges and six grammar schools. The furtherest north you can live to have a child in one of the grammars is Enfield in north London.

Two sixth-form colleges give independent schools a run for their money: Hills Road in Cambridge, which has 880 sixthformers in what used to be called the upper sixth, but is now year 13, managed 56 Oxbridge places. Peter Symonds Sixth Form College in Winchester, Hampshire, with the country”s biggest year 13, (1330), sent 44, more than its famous neightbour, Winchester College.

Further north, Greenhead College in Huddersfield has like Hills Road critical mass, (830 in year 13), and is less selective.The college sent  30 sixth-formers to Oxbridge. The sixth ranking is the Sixth-form College, Farnborough, (1270 in year 13), which sent 26 to Oxbridge.

If you live in the north, you don’t have a chance of getting your children into any of the other six schools. If you do live south of Reading, you will probably need to get a tutor to get them through the entrance tests.  The highest performing is Colchester Royal Grammar School – 33 to Oxbridge – on a par with the Independent Magdalen College School in Oxford. It takes girls in the sixth form. The other boys’ school is Queen Elizabeth School in Barnet, which got 20 sixth-formers into Cambridge.   QE  Boys is the school that created upheaval in Jeremy Corbyn’s marriage. The left-wing MP for Islington North separated from his wife, Claudia Bracchitta, after she had insisted their son Ben should go to QE Boys.

Latymer School, a co-educational grammar in Enfield, north London,  managed 24 places, mostly at Cambridge. Latymer’s sixth form draws in 16-year-olds from London’s many independents. In fifth place is Pate’s Grammar School, a co-educational school in Cheltenham, similar in size to QE Boys. (180 in year 13), sent 26 of its sixth-formers to Oxbridge. The only girl’s grammar in the list is Henrietta Barnet in Hampstead, north London.




Top state schools                                                                       Oxford                                 Cambridge

1 Hills Road, Cambridge                                  55                        29                                                  25

2 Peter Symond”s College, Winchester          44                        24                                                  20

3 Colchester Royal Grammar School              33                       11                                                    21

4 Greenhead College, Huddersfield               30                       21                                                      9

5  Pate”s Grammar School, Cheltenham        26                       16                                                    10

5 Sixth Form College Farnborough                 26                      10                                                    16

7 Queen Elizabeth School, Barnet                  24                         4                                                    20

7 Latymer School, Enfield, London               24                          4                                                   20

9 St Olave”s and St Saviour”s,  Orpington       23                       6                                                    17

9 Judd School, Tonbridge                               20                         16                                                     4

9 Henrietta Barnett, Hampstead                20                          10                                                   10