Nineteen of the 20 highest-ranked state schools are single sex, according to average scores across eight GCSEs sat by each pupil, including core subjects.
The highest performing is Henrietta Barnett, a girls’ grammar school in Barnet, north London, where the average A-level grade was an A. Another selective girls’ school came second, followed by three boys’ grammar schools.
Del Cooke, head of Henrietta Barnett, said the school’s success was partly down to the incredible competition for places: there were 2,400 applications for 100 places this year and the school has no catchment area so there are no restrictions on who can apply.
Mrs Cooke has led the school for two and a half years and was a headteacher in Surrey for seven years before that. She said: “It’s extremely competitive to get in as everyone who wants to sit the exam has to be allowed to. We do two rounds of exams to make sure we get those with the greatest potential.
“We do have fantastic students and dedicated staR. But the thing that for me is the most extraordinary is that it’s without a doubt the most relaxed school I’ve been in. It’s positive, caring and happy. The students call it their second home and have fantastic relationships with each other and with staR. They are very accepting and encouraging. There is also masses of extracurricular stuR going on and the emphasis is on initiative and leadership.”
The school has dozens of clubs including a robotics society and a biochemistry society. “We don’t talk about exams or about coming top,” Mrs Cooke said. “We don’t want them to feel under pressure but to develop their curiosity.”
A record number of girls have received oRers from Oxford and Cambridge this year - 39 out of a year group of 132.
Pate’s Grammar School in Gloucestershire is the only mixed sex school in the top 20. Russel Ellicot, its headteacher, said: “We continually reflect on and refresh our curriculum oRer. Instead of focusing on league tables we consider what will best prepare our able students for the next stage in their education.