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First tier, second tier

(55 Posts)
chopc Mon 14-Jan-19 14:43:25

I have seen several threads in which some independent schools are thought to be first tier, second tier, top 50 etc

Please could I ask who decides on the Tier and if anyone could refer me to the data/ article etc?

Thanks in advance

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Mon 14-Jan-19 16:46:01

No-one really decides! Academic results and how difficult a school is to get into might result in a school being called top tier. Historical impact and alumni might also be used. Have you heard of the school? Eton and Harrow for example are well known. Also, one would assume St Pauls Girls School is considered a higher "tier" school than "St Nowhere" that has no children taking A levels and takes everyone who applies. What other people think does not really matter anyway. It is all about which school suits a particular child.

steppemum Mon 14-Jan-19 16:49:52

It can be a bit dated too.

One local school scores very highly on results and is top of the league table (which is ranking schools by their exam results)
But lots of parents don't liek it, because when THEY went to school it was a dump comprehensive, and they haven't updated their view.

Similarly one local grammar is impossibly hard to get into, as its reputation is that it is amazing, but other local grammars are now gettign similar results.

You get lists, like the Sunday Times best schools list, as well as local league tables

BubblesBuddy Mon 14-Jan-19 18:20:50

They are not independent schools though steppemum. There is a pecking order in private schools. However there are ups and downs as in all schools. Local league tables don’t tell you a lot about Rugby or Radley vs Harrow or Stowe.

chopc Mon 14-Jan-19 18:35:18

So what is the pecking order? And is anyone able to share the links to the data?

OP’s posts: |
steppemum Mon 14-Jan-19 19:03:11

Oh sorry, missed that it was independent schools!

ChocolateWombat Mon 14-Jan-19 19:08:47

There are league tables. They are data based and one measure. You'll find each newspaper has its own and each measures differently so the rankings vary.

This thing about top tier etc is purely a feeling people have. Here is no categorical 'top tier' and people will argue about whether certain schools are top tier or whatever. That feeling that people have is usually based on results over a period of time. Schools may perform extremely well one year, but without consistent performance won't be considered as safe and high performing a schools with a proven track record over many years - so there will be lags. Some schools might suddenly do well because there's a new Head or a new policy but some people will want longer term evidence that the school is a long term success and the results aren't reliant on that one ahead who might leave.

The thing to recognise is that the schools that do the best are the msot selective. They perform extremely well because they take very clever children and most of those would perform at a very high level in any top or so-called second tier or third tier school. And the thing to recognise about these league tables is that different measures are used to place schools, independent schools might fudge their results in terms of what is included and tiny margins can make a significant difference in league tables, but in terms of individual students actual results are tiny tiny differences and all of those top and second tier schools (whichever they are) deliver a great education and results. Going to any of them is very fortunate. Getting into this 'I must go to school X as its A Level results are 0.2% higher than Y school' is just a bit daft. Practical things such as closeness to home and what siblings will be doing are important too, as are realising you might not get the school you want and need a back-up.

williteverend99 Mon 14-Jan-19 19:14:55

Queen Ethelburga’s always comes out top in the league tables.....grin

cakeisalwaystheanswer Mon 14-Jan-19 20:36:17

It used to be based on CE requirements, 70+ was first tier. Its redundant since most schools have pre-tests now but people still use the term tier to indicate academic ranking in groups.
And Queen Ethelburga's COLLEGE (extremely important distinction) isn't top they're about 60th on A level results. I am expecting a further division of the school and an entry for Queen Ethelburga's College Scholars next year.
How long till this thread goes puff?

chopc Tue 15-Jan-19 00:36:04

Your response sounds very sensible Chocolatewombat.
I was having lunch with someone yesterday who suggested this tiering may be a matter of snobbery and that people who have not experienced private education may have over inflated their prestige. Time will tell if this is true or not as we will be giving up a lot to send our three to private school .........

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Tue 15-Jan-19 10:09:02

Well if it’s a well known school it’s money well spent. If it’s the local school that doesn’t do A levels then I wouldn’t be giving up anything. Look at the breadth of the curriculum, extra curricular and university destinations. If it’s hugeky competitive to get in, it’s a good investment if they all succeed. If they don’t you might be better just doing 6th form at somewhere good and saving the money for 7-11.

happygardening Tue 15-Jan-19 11:32:13

Many of the must academic independent schools are not in the league tables the last time I looked. Without a doubt some schools have a certain snob factor made even more powerful when combined with top results. Years ago a mum told me at her London prep those who DS’s were offered a place SPS definitely considered themselves a significant cut above everyone else!

williteverend99 Tue 15-Jan-19 12:07:14

There are so many variables that it is really difficult to rank schools.

Single sex V co-ed
Full boarding, weekly boarding, day
Big school v small school
Geographical location
A levels v IB

So if you are looking for a full boarding boys school in the SE then you might think Eton, Harrow and Winchester are top tier. But if you are looking for a co-ed day school in Scotland your answer would be very different.

Oxonian2 Tue 15-Jan-19 12:46:27

Interesting question. Martin Stephen - former Headmaster of St Paul's - writes on this topic on his recent book in the English public school. He offers (solely in relation to boys or co-ed schools):

Premier League
Eton
Harrow
Westminster
Winchester
St Paul's

Next league down
Ampleforth
Brighton College
Charterhouse
City of London
Dulwich
Haileybury
Haberdashers' Aske's
King's, Canterbury
King Edward's, Birmingham
KCS, Wimbledon
MCS, Oxford
Marlborough
Merchant Taylors' Boys
Oundle
Radley
RGS Guildford
RGS Newcastle
Rugby
Manchester Grammar
Perse
Shrewsbury
Tonbridge
Uppingham
Wellington

Next tier down includes:
Bedales
Bedford
Bradfield
Bryanston
Cranford
Cheltenham
Christ's Hospital
Clifton
Cranleigh
Gresham's
Lancing
Latymer Upper
Malvern
Oakham
Repton
Sedbergh
Sherborne
Stonyhurst
Stowe
UCS London
Whitgift

Make of that what will you will!

VanCleefArpels Tue 15-Jan-19 13:01:27

Another indicator of what tier schools are in is what teams they play at sports as “like” school tend to play each other. So on that basis my DC school would fit into “next tier down” as above as it was these schools they would play against

williteverend99 Tue 15-Jan-19 13:04:50

Not sure about that VanCllef - I think a lot of fixtures are geographically based and/or arranged via Daily Mail cup etc

BertrandRussell Tue 15-Jan-19 13:11:07

Easy. My child’s school is first tier, your child’s school is second tier, their child’s school is third tier! grin

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 15-Jan-19 13:33:39

His top tier only has all boys schools! and Latymer which is now the top performing co-ed day school is third tier alongside Bedales! What a load of nonsense. I suspect this was a list from the 1950s and is 100% focused on social cachet as opposed to academic results. On top of ALL the girls schools there are some other glaring ommissions, Alleyns, Highate etc.

Stephen Martin was another publicity hungry head of which the Indy sector never seems to tire.

chopc Tue 15-Jan-19 13:38:14

Interestingly Sevenoaks School is not even on the list! I am sure this has been voted Independent School of the Year more than once and has great results

OP’s posts: |
Hothouseorflophouse Tue 15-Jan-19 14:34:44

Yes, we rejected a second tier in favour of a third tier on that list - which always does better in those league tables and has better facilities.

FlumePlume Tue 15-Jan-19 14:46:24

Interesting question. I would say that first tier avoids all the issues that are often mentioned on private versus state threads where people say ‘remember, private doesn’t mean better’.

A top tier school is financially solid, it is substantially over-subscribed, it has a stable senior management team, it easily recruits experienced and expert teachers (who later go on to be promoted to other schools), it has facilities that are significantly better than any local other school, it has excellent extra-curricular opportunities across the whole spectrum (so not just good sport or good music, a lot more than that), it uses it’s freedom from the National Curriculum to teach in a broad and interesting way that’s not just about exam results.

There is some element of social cachet at the very top. I don’t think that’s a good way to choose a school, but I do think the things I listed above are important and do have an impact on the child’s experience. Conversely, I wouldn’t choose a private school over a state option if that private school couldn’t demonstrate all the things I’ve listed.

VanCleefArpels Tue 15-Jan-19 17:19:17

williteverend I can personally attest to very long journeys fir matches- I wish they were more geographically based, including against local state schools, but there really is a pecking order in operation!

BubblesBuddy Tue 15-Jan-19 17:26:16

Oxonian: All boys or co ed schools!!! What about the girls' schools? What a ridiculous list!!! There are one or two very dodgy inclusions and lots of fantastic schools are excluded. Girls ones. SPGS, WA and CLC for example. Bizarre.

Top tier schools are the end of the line for best Heads! Their Heads do not leave and go on to be a Head elsewhere. I do not think all private schools that are in the top 50 (however you judge this) are over subscribed either. Different schools offer different experiences and boarding schools are, generally, less over subscribed than day schools, especially London Day schools. That does not make them lesser schools.

Doublethecuddles Tue 15-Jan-19 17:54:51

No schools in Scotland? I would have expected Fettes and Gordonston to have been in the top 50?

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 15-Jan-19 18:03:06

I have just realised that St Pauls is the only top tier school from SM's list which is a day school. So this list can't be very old. 30 years ago DCs boarded, day schools were for people who couldn't afford boarding fees. I boarded a long time ago (girls, so certainly not on this list!) and TBH we just though DCs at day schools were poor.

I am actually getting angry about the way girls education is disregarded by men. SM can write whatever twaddle he wants and completely ignore girls schools but despite not having anywhere near the same level of support from old pupils to pay for rebuilding, bursary funds etc. SPGS still outperforms the boys school at every exam level every single year. (Storms off to feminist board in a huff).

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