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A-levels crucial

By Danny Harrington


A report just out from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), the UK’s elite schools organization, has highlighted a growth of more than 6% in pupils being admitted to fee-paying schools at the age of 16 i.e. after completing GCSEs and ready to move on to A-levels. This outstripped growth in entry numbers at ages 11 and 13, with an overall growth despite some withdrawals due to financial pressures. Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, HMC chairman David Levin pointed out that parents were willing to make huge sacrifices in order to access the “high quality education in the independent sector in spite of the uncertain economic climate.”

Analysis of the 2010 A-level results shows that students at independent schools are three times more likely to achieve the new top A* grade at A-level than their peers schooled at state-funded comprehensives. This maximizes their chances of gaining entry to the country’s top universities of the Russell Group. In other words, the statistics are backing up what many have felt intuitively for years – the smaller classes, higher quality teachers, greater motivation, better resources, superior peer group environment of independent sixth forms produce the exam results needed to access the best universities. Whether or not this represents education is moot. It is what parents (and society) want for their children, and they are getting it in the independent sector.

For Hong Kong parents there is a clear message. If you didn’t feel like sending your children away at 13 (or earlier as some do); if you couldn’t afford it a few years ago; if your attitude has changed over the last four years; or even if you simply didn’t know; no matter the reason, it’s not too late to access a UK education. Good grades in UK A-levels are still the best way into UK universities.

These can be accessed in Hong Kong in both a mainstream and a more tailored school environment with the likes of Edexcel, the UK’s largest examination body. There are a number of boutique sixth form colleges in key cities such as London, Oxford and Cambridge with tremendous success rates at helping students meet university offers. And then there are the schools of the HMC which all reserve sixth form (A-level) places for overseas entrants who offer significant academic and/or sporting or musical talents.

By Danny Harrington

Co-founder of ITS Tutorial School

ITS Tutorial School and ITS Educational Services can be contacted for all kinds of advice about A-levels and UK schooling in general. ITS is an Edexcel Centre and a UCAS centre. See the main webpage.

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