Official statistics show 50% of all Higher exams sat this summer in independent schools resulted in pupils getting an A-grade, compared with the previous high of 49%.

The number of A-grades at Advanced Higher has risen from 38% to 39%.

The figures from the Scottish Council of Independent Schools also show that overall pass rates at Higher have risen slightly since last year.

The pass rate for candidates attaining A to C grades was 91% in 2007, up from 90% in 2006. This compares with a national Higher pass rate for all Scottish schools, including the independent sector, of 74.2% this year.

Judith Sischy, director of SCIS, welcomed the results, which she said proved independent schools were value for money.

In July, The Herald revealed that Scottish private schools raised their fees by an average of 3.5% in 2009-10.

Although the increase is still above the rate of inflation, it represents the smallest rise since 2005, when The Herald began collating private school fee increases.

“The independent sector has started the school year in good heart, boosted by consistently strong exam results which are a testament to the commitment and hard work of pupils and teachers,” said Ms Sischy.

“The outcome for pupils is an entry to employment, further or higher education, with an opportunity to pursue their chosen careers, equipped with a portfolio of skills for life and work beyond school.”

The figures showed that, overall, the best-performing school at Higher level was St Mary’s Music School, in Edinburgh, where nearly 96% of pupils passed Highers at grades A-C. However, the school only had eight pupils who sat Highers.

Jennifer Rimer, the headteacher, said: “These excellent results are a wonderful testament to the teaching of our academic and music staff and the motivation of our pupils, who learn to use their time well and readily transfer the self-discipline of a very busy schedule of music activity to their academic studies.”

Of the larger private schools, George Heriot’s, also in Edinburgh, outperformed all its rivals with a pass rate of 95.59%.

Alistair Hector, headmaster of the school, which was founded in 1628, said: “We knew these were the best results on record and we are delighted about that.

“The results are the product of outstanding professionalism on the part of teaching staff in the classroom, excellent guidance work, and of course the enthusiasm, hard work and dedication of the pupils themselves.

“They are also great testimony to the Heriot’s ethos of encouraging effort and supporting all our pupils to reach their best, whatever their level.”

In the fiercely-competitive Glasgow market, St Aloysius' came top with a pass rate of 93.75% closely followed by Hutchesons' Grammar School, with a pass rate of 93.56%.

Dr Ken Greig, the rector of Hutchesons’, said the return to the top bracket of the school league tables was important because of the history of the school as a centre of academic excellence -- a status that has been questioned in previous years.

“This is very important to us, as historically our main focus has always been academic,” he said.

“Sending your child to an independent school is a big commitment, but we feel we give value for money. Our fees are deliberately kept as low as possible, because we want to be the school of choice for intelligent children from any background.”

Glasgow Academy came second of the Glasgow schools, with a pass rate of 92.93%, while the High School of Glasgow dropped into third with a 92.26% pass rate.

Of those schools that study A-levels, Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh had the highest pass rate of 98.55% followed by Strathallan, near Perth, and Fettes College, in Edinburgh.





St Mary’s Music School 95.65

George Heriot’s School 95.59

Clifton Hall School 95.23

St Columba’s School 94.48

Stewart’s Melville College 94.07

St Aloysius’ College 93.75

Albyn School, Aberdeen 93.63

Hutchesons’ Grammar School 93.56

Glasgow Academy 92.93

Mary Erskine School 92.86

Kilgraston 92.30

High School of Glasgow 92.26

High School of Dundee 92.02

Wellington School 91.66

Lomond School 91.00

St Margaret’s School, Edinburgh 90.84

Morrison’s Academy 90.74

St Margaret’s School for Girls 90.60

George Watson’s College 90.16

Dollar Academy 90.07

Craigholme School 90.00

St George’s School for Girls 89.81

Robert Gordon’s College 89.75

Kelvinside Academy 88.44

Hamilton College 86.11

Fernhill School 84.40

Edinburgh Academy 79.74

Beaconhurst School 76.04

Belmont House School 67.70

Queen Victoria School 66.66




Merchiston Castle School 98.55

Strathallan School 94.81

Fettes College 92.37

Glenalmond College 85.14

Loretto School 83.81