The education system in England is incredibly diverse, with a substantial difference in academic achievement between the top ranking secondary schools in England and the lowest ranking. There are thousands of secondary schools operating in the UK, providing plenty of choice when it comes to selecting the right educational establishment.
There are a number of ways that can be used to evaluate which schools offer the best education. The opportunities that the school offers, in terms of academic subjects, music, sports, and extra activities, reveals a lot about the quality of education that it provides. However, it is difficult to put a quantitative value on the environment and experiences that children receive in each school.
How Are the Top Schools Ranked?
The main way in which schools are evaluated in England, is through the academic success of past pupils. For secondary schools, this is evaluated primarily on G.C.S.E grades, and the percentage of students who received a grade between A* and C in 5 G.C.S.E exams, with the inclusion of English and mathematics.
This is further extended with an English Baccalaureate (EBacc) evaluation, which measures the percentage of students who achieved a passing grade in the core subjects. An average score for each pupil regarding their overall grades is also included, along with the new addition of a progress 8 score.
The progress 8 score takes into account 8 different qualifications and determines the amount of progress that students have made since leaving primary school. The addition of the score provides an indication as to how well an establishment has been able to give students the opportunity to improve their academic success.
Based on the academic achievements of pupils in their G.C.S.E exams, taken in the summer of 2016, the top 5 schools in England, ranked from 5 to 1, are:
King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls – Birmingham
King Edward VI Camp Hill for girls, is a grammar school that educates girls in both G.C.S.E and A-level subjects. The school originates from the King Edward Foundation, and has a long history in the exemplary education of girls in Birmingham.
The state school achieved 99% in the EBacc rating in 2016, with a high majority of students achieving A or A* all their exams.
St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School – London
St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School is the second all girl’s grammar school on the list. Gospel values are an important part of the school, through G.S.C.E level and through the co-ed sixth form education. The school features a thriving list of extra-curricular activities, from sport to music.
Rated outstanding by OFSTED in effectiveness, the pupils consistently perform excellently. In 2016, 83.7% of students received an A*/A grade in their G.C.S.E exams and the school received an EBacc score of 99%.
Queen Elizabeth’s School – Barnet
Queen Elizabeth’s School is an all-boys grammar school in Barnet. Established in 1573, the school is state-run with an extensive academic curriculum and additional activities and programs. It caters to G.S.C.E level and A-level students with a high proportion of its students moving on to the top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.
Like all additions to the top 5 list of secondary schools in England, all pupils at the Queen Elizabeth’s School received 5 A* – C grades at G.C.S.E level. With an EBacc score of 99%, over the 179 pupils, and a progress 8 score of 0.7, the school performed excellently across the board in the 2016 G.C.S.E examinations.
Focus School (Coventry Campus) – Coventry
The Focus School Coventry Campus is part of the Focus Learning Trust. It is the only independent school in the top 5 schools list, and one of only three independent schools in the top 25. As part of the nationwide, and global, OneSchool network, the Focus School Coventry is a unique learning environment that provides an exceptional standard of education.
The Focus School Coventry reached second place on the list with only 13 students having taken their G.C.S.E exams in 2016. The school received 100% in both 5 A*- C grades, and the EBacc score.
The Henrietta Barnett School – London
The Henrietta Barnett School is a state run all-girl’s grammar school based in London. Consistently ranked amongst the best schools in the country, it has been operating as a high-quality learning establishment since 1911. The school achieved 100% in both the EBacc score and the percentage of pupils who gained 5 grades between A* and C.
The school boasts modern facilities for academic subjects, the arts, and sports, as well as a grade 2 listed central building with period architecture. The Henrietta Barnett School also caters to A-level students, with 43% of A-level students achieving A*’s in 2017.
While the top 5 list of schools in England is heavily dominated by grammar schools, there is a lot of diversity within the wider range of top-ranking schools. The top 100 schools in England, all saw 98% to 100% of their pupils receive 5 or more A* to C grades in their 2016 G.C.S.E examinations. This shows that there are of plenty of schools to choose from that have demonstrated an exceptional standard of education.