The first year of tough new A-level exams has confirmed there is still a big north-south divide in achievement.
League tables show the vast majority of top-scoring schools – both state and private – are in London or the South East.
All but seven of the 44 independent schools to record grade B or above in 90 per cent of their A-levels were in the South of England.
Meanwhile the North boasted only one of the 11 state schools to score so well this summer.
The North of England boasted only one of the 11 state schools to score so well in A-Level results this summer – Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Greater Manchester (pictured)
In total, 55 schools achieved the 90 per cent rate for top grades across the country this year. This is 12 fewer than last year – following the creation of a non-modular exam system in 13 subjects.
The new system focuses on end-of-course tests, rather than coursework projects completed throughout the year.
The Parent Power league tables which reveal the 2017 figures have been compiled by The Sunday Times to highlight ‘outright academic achievement’.
They show that the South East and London have 19 of the top 20 fee-paying schools. Last year all of the top 20 were in the South.
The highest scoring was St Paul’s Girls’ School in west London – the seventh year in a row it has scooped the accolade. Pupils recorded 97.4 per cent of A-levels at grade A*-B.
Among the top 20 state secondaries, 15 are in London or the South East. Henrietta Barnett School in north London topped the state school table, with 94.5 per cent of A-levels graded B or above.
There are no independents and just two state schools north of Birmingham in the top 20. Last year only one top-ranked state school was from the North.
This year, the only northern state secondary to score top grades in 90 per cent of exams was Altrincham Grammar School for Girls in Greater Manchester.
This year’s survey also highlights a slump in results for top private girls’ schools. Of the 15 private schools to drop out of the 90 per cent club, 12 are girls-only – including famous names such as Cheltenham Ladies’ College and the Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith, west London.
The highest scoring was St Paul’s Girls’ School in west London (pictured) – the seventh year in a row it has scooped the accolade. Pupils recorded 97.4 per cent of A-levels at grade A*-B
Experts said the dominance of private girls’ schools could be challenged further over the next two years as more A-levels focusing on end-of-course exams are rolled out.
Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said girls’ schools began to dominate when modular GCSEs were introduced in 1988. A-levels went fully modular in 2002.
He said the research hinted at ‘first signs of a decline in independent schools’, adding: ‘They do not seem to be coping as well, especially the girls, who tend to cope less well with end-of-course exams.
‘State schools are improving, [private] fees are rising. Parents will increasingly be wondering whether private education is worth it.’