Private schools - Difference in academic performance

St Paul's School 82.14% of the exam results are either  A or A* at a level but at other private schools the results are much lower with some getting only 20% of results at A or A*. What explains the difference? 

Private schools have the similar(ish) facilities; ambitious and generally well educated parents who are committed to their child's education; motivated students; similar number of teacher to student ratio.... so why are there such differing results.  

My tiny regional mind is blown by these threads. 

City firms love that sweet spot where high achievement meets low self esteem. 

plus they prolly got regularly bummed at boarding school anyway so they know the score

Wildoats the issue is law firm recruiters still get teary eyed , and froth with excitement when they see a CV,  Harrow  academic scholarship, top ten 1st from LSE/Oxbridge, etc. They are (wrongly) in my view prepared to overlook any other obvious shortfalls, likely the ability to interact with a wide range of people, odd social presentation, dressed like they have been dragged through a hedge backwards, questionable hygiene, etc, etc.

The Bar os even worse by a factor of ten.Have you seen most of these juniors in commercial/chancery/specialists Civil sets. Incapable of interacting with clients, odd twitching body tics, little or no eye contact, food stained clothes, but with academics from another planet. On their feet they are mostly horrendous, and are best locked in a darkened room, researching and settling first draft opinions, and being 5th junior in a huge case.

Afew years go, a load of Chambers claimed to anonymise pupillage applications , led by none other than Blackstones. Right Oh, all the pupils were all cut from exactly the same cloth. I doubt for one it ever really happened TBH. Was just PR fluff

"Have you seen most of these juniors in commercial/chancery/specialists Civil sets. Incapable of interacting with clients, odd twitching body tics, little or no eye contact, food stained clothes, but with academics from another planet."

apart from the brilliant academics I do not recognise this description of junior counsel 

What Kaulbach said ! 

the parents sending their kids private rather than state seem a lot more highly strung and stressed out. 


There’s literally no way I would send my kids to a private school.


I just do not understand why parents do it, as I said it akin to cruelty.

Out of the parents with kids same age our next door neighbours are going private. The mother is on the board of a major company and is literally never home and spends the time she is running. The dad and the au pair are a lot warmer and pick up the slack.


The other one going private asked me whether I loved my son when I said we were going state. their kid’s Academic performance is important to them in a way that it just isn’t to me. Their kid WILL go to Oxbridge and WILL be a doctor. The mother said to me that she cannot divorce the idea of successful at life from successful in academic subjects.


every single state school where we live is rated outstanding for primary and secondary which it’s so popular with families so it seems even weirder to then be so insistent on private school for little archer 





Ebitda, you’ve hit the nail on the head, which of course is precisely where it should be hit. Hell’s Rejects are not programmed to think outside the box. Human Remains are spectacularly powerful these days purely because the partners have abrogated all and any responsibility for staff recruitment and development. Unfortunately HR are unable to replicate the judgement of the professional staff when considering applicants. Put bluntly HR doesn’t have a clue and understandably opts for the least risky option by recruiting those who present the lowest risk to themselves and hey presto...your colleagues will be pungent, awkward, embarrassing...but on paper, bright.

The determinedly ignored reality is a firm needs both nerdy nutters and worryingly incompetent marketeers. If only firms could recognise and accept that some solicitors shouldn’t be allowed within 20 feet of clients and others the same distance from actual paperwork. As a partner in a large provincial firm I could weep at the ease with which superb legal services could be delivered without destroying staff, creating unnecessary risks and delighting clients - almost as a byproduct.

"They have been utterly let down by a system which values grades above all else. "

  Have to agree there, Wildoats.

Ebitda: as far as the Bar is concerned, it is indeed super-competitive , especially in the Chancery sets, and not all counsel make good advocates.

As far as 'blind' applications are concerned, Blackstone's won't consider potential pupils unless they've undergone an assessed mini-pupillage with them. So, on the A/F, if one states they shadowed such and such a Barrister or QC in such an such a case, they will be identifiable anyway.

The chance of pupillage is one in four, regardless of grades. Top grades don't necessarily make good lawyers. It's also poor preparation for life in an MC firm and unsocial hours, and being always 'on', or poor pay and long hours if one does crime (at the bar or solicitors' firms).


"Unfortunately HR are unable to replicate the judgement of the professional staff when considering applicants".

Correct, Wildoats. Furthermore, I understand many recruiters use machine-reading tech to 'sift' CVs.

Some website legal jobs portals offer the services of professional CV writers, with no experience or knowledge of how law firms or chambers operate, and seem cannot understand that we don't work in sales and marketing. They love purple prose to make one's CV have more bang.

I was given free initial feedback on my CV by one of these 'CV professionals', and said summary incorrectly  stated that I had worked at a particular court (when in fact I had attended said court a number of times), and that I had some technical experience (Nope!). It also omitted my languages and the fact that I had lived and worked abroad.

Ergo, machines and non-legal HR folk are sifting our applications these days (the Bar doesn't, yet) but law firms and PCs seem to do this now. 

The HR stuff is a bit off the main thread of private education, but it is a related area in terms of how the obsessive push for grades is supposed to prepare one for the world of work (hmmmm), and to find that, as Wildoats suggested, recruiters do not know what to look for because they are non-expert. 

At least at the Bar (in Chambers), whether for pupils or tenants, the recruitment is performed,it were, by barristers. In-house may be different, where one would come up 'against' HR bods.

wildoats I agree with your latest post.


Sec the point I was making about the Bar is they still wrongly correlate academic brilliance with the ability to make a top to bottom standout  bazza, but it is nothing of the sought. The Bar is rammed with Bazzas from days gone by with average academics , from average unis, indeed some didn't even go to uni and are genuinely brilliant. Equally the Bar is full of brilliant academics who are awful Barristers, shockingly bad.

I applied for a pupillage at a leading commercial /employment set, did an assesed mini, after which candidates were whittled down through two interviews to the last dozen or so, and offers were made to 3, with three reserve offers. I know for a fact I scored best on the advocacy pieces, best for written work and was liked my those who came into contact with me. When I asked for feedback as to why I had not been made an offer, I was told by the supervisor who championed my cause " I really don't know in discussions you fared as one of the two best from the last dozen"

Those who accepted all had double firsts and BCL's , I had a very high 2:1  from UoL. One of the pupils left after a year of a tenancy, as she considered beneath her having to travel day after day to far flung courts, and being told instructing solicitors need that advice by Monday. I was not surprised having worked alongside her for over a week, She is now where she belongs, in academia...

Around my area there are loads of tuition centres and most of these only take students from year 3 (from 8 years old) and mainly to prepare children for the 11+.


Would it be worth trying to get a child a tutor earlier - from year 1 or 2, just to make sure he doesn't fall behind? Alll this talk has left me seriously worried that I am letting him down.

FAOD: we could only consider grammar schools, as we don't have the money to send him to private school.

It's funny but there are some schools that produce educated rounded individuals with practical skills and those that produce people who are super bright and well educated but can't even tie their own shoe laces.  To be fair though my dad falls into the latter category to a large extent and he left school at 16 with virtually no qualifications.

If you are talking grammar 11+, having specifc tutoring before year 5 is a waste of time as the child won't have developed enough yet. We are using a highly recommended one who requires an £80 1 hour assessment to see if she even wants to take your chld on and then if accepted it's £600 for a term of weekly group tutoring through the whole of year 5.

This is why 11+ tutoring will be my post retirement gig.

In year 1 and 2, they don't do shit at school. Just read with them and do some basic reading comprehension and just talk to them about stuff.

Wot others have said re St Pauls. I remember interviewing there and the focus was all academic - they weren't remotely interested in the stuff I did outside of the classroom. I remember them getting me to do lots of mental arithmetic. They seemed pleased but the experience left me thinking that I wouldn't like it there.