BRIGHT sparks across Oxfordshire have helped fire their schools to the top of national A-Level tables.

For the first time, the Department for Education has released a breakdown of the best schools by subject.

And four county schools were in the top 10 nationwide in terms of the proportion of students achieving the highest grade, based on last year’s A-Levels.

Oxford’s Matthew Arnold School was first in the country for maths, with 42.9 per cent of pupils getting the top A*.

Headteacher Katherine Ryan said: “The outstanding results are a testament to the excellent teaching in our mathematics department coupled with the enthusiasm and commitment of our students.

“Many of the A-Level mathematicians go on to study mathematics at the top universities in the country.”

She said 50 per cent of students also achieved A* grades at further maths, but there were too few pupils taking the subject to be counted in the tables.

The Cherwell School, Oxford, a science specialist, was fifth in the country for biology, fifth for chemistry, third for further maths and sixth for physics.

At least a quarter of students taking exams in each subject got an A*, and in further maths over 45 per cent got A*s.

Headteacher Paul James said: “We did have a particular focus on sixth-form achievement during last year with a real focus on boosting achievement and making further gains on our performance on the previous year, so we are really pleased that worked out.”

He said pupils taking A-Levels this summer had a record number of Oxbridge offers, with six being offered places at Oxford, and 13 at Cambridge.

Of those, 15 were for medicine, maths or science-related subjects.

Mr James said he believed such tables could be helpful and added: “People come in expecting to do well and their own expectations and those of the school are that high achievement is not only possible but expected.”

John Mason School, in Abingdon, was rated sixth for achievement in maths, with more than 38 per cent of pupils achieving A*s.

Headteacher Di Mashiter said: “We have a fantastic team of maths teachers and certainly over the years maths has been very strong in school.”

But Wallingford School headteacher Wyll Willis, where pupils were fifth nationally for English literature, said the results needed to be taken in context.

He said: “It depends on who is sitting in front of you – I could have a classroom of children who came in with A*s at GCSE and you would expect them to get an A*, but if you have another class that got Bs and Cs in GCSE, that’s even more impressive.”

The results only include schools where more than 20 children are sitting the exams.

Oxfordshire County Council education cabinet member Melinda Tilley said: “We always knew these schools were very good but to get in the top 10 in the country is brilliant.”

The full report is available here: A levels_Schools and colleges.xls


How the schools rate


  • King Edward VII School, Sheffield
  • St John Fisher High School, N Yorks
  • St Aidan’s High School, N Yorks
  • Ilkley Grammar School
  • Wallingford School
  • Kenilworth School and Sports College
  • Holy Cross College, Bury
  • Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, Kensington & Chelsea
  • Weald School, W Sussex
  • St John the Baptist School, Woking


  • Matthew Arnold School, Oxford
  • Watford Grammar School
  • St Aidan’s Catholic School, Sunderland 
  • St George’s School, Herts
  • Durham Johnston School
  • John Mason School, Abingdon
  • Parmiter’s School, Herts
  • William Farr CofE School, Lincs
  • Stokesley School
  • Corfe Hills School, Poole


  • Durham Johnston School
  • Silverdale School, Sheffield 
  • King Edward VI School, Suffolk
  • John Kyrle School, Herefordshire
  • Ulverston Victoria High School
  • The Cherwell School, Oxford
  • Preston Manor School, Brent 
  • The Ecclesbourne School, Derbyshire 
  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • St John Fisher School, N Yorks 
  • St Aidan’s School, N Yorks


  • St George’s School, Herts
  • The Ecclesbourne School, Derbyshire 
  • Sir John Lawes School, Herts
  • Hasmonean High School, Barnet 
  • The Cherwell School, Oxford
  • St Bartholomew’s School, W Berks
  • Stokesley School
  • Fulford School, York
  • King Edward VII School, Sheffield
  • The Fallibroome Academy, Cheshire


  • Stokesley School
  • The Chase School, Worcs
  • St Nicholas School, Cheshire
  • Howard of Effingham School, Surrey
  • The Cherwell School, Oxford
  • Durham Johnston School
  • George Abbot School, Surrey
  • St John Fisher School, N Yorks
  • St Aidan’s School, N Yorks
  • St Mary’s School, Menston


  • Dame Alice Owen’s School, Herts
  • Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College
  • The Cherwell School, Oxford
  • Watford Grammar School for Boys
  • The Thomas Hardye School, Dorset
  • Runshaw College
  • Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College
  • The College of Richard Collyer, Horsham
  • Alton College
  • Hartlepool Sixth Form College
  • George Abbot School, Surrey