Oxfordshire hosts a large proportion of the highest achieving schools in the country, recent GCSE and A-level results have revealed. Oxford High School GDST achieved the best A-level results for a girls’ school with all pupils attaining five good passes and almost 93% of entries being awarded the top two grades. Magdalen College School also headed league tables as the top independent school in the country both for A levels and GCSEs. At A level, 70 out of 90 candidates acheived all As or A*s and at GCSE level 99.5% of all grades achieved were A or A* with 35% of their entrants receiving 10 or more A*s in total.Some schools in Oxford can attribute their success directly to the influence of, and close ties to, the University of Oxford. Dr Tim Hands, Master of Magdalen College School, told Cherwell, “MCS has a unique foundation in that William Waynflete wanted to create a university school, a college and a school as a unique integrated whole, enabling each to gain from the others.”In their Lower Sixth year at Magdalen College School, pupils research and write a dissertation on a topic of their choice under guidance from academics outside the school, many of them members of the University. Dr Hands claims, “Our latest A-Level results bear witness to the fruits of this project.”Oxford’s state secondary schools also attained better GCSE results than the national average. For example, at Cherwell School 28% of entries achieved an A or A* and the Matthew Arnold School gained 31% A or A* grades compared to the national average of only 23%.At Oxford Spires Academy, which recently replaced the Oxford Community School to serve some of Oxford’s poorer areas including Blackbird Leys, 100% of pupils gained at least one GCSE and 63% achieved at least five at grades A* to C. The Headmistress, Susan Croft, commented, “Students and staff have worked hard to achieve these results and I am pleased with the outcome – these results are well deserved by all. We are set on an upwards trajectory of success.”The only Oxford school whose results haven’t been announced is the three-year-old Oxford Academy which has asked for dozens of papers to be remarked after the headmaster, Mike Reading, said he was “disappointed”.The South-East as a whole was, as usual, the highest achieving area. Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has tried to explain this pattern, saying, “The highest paid jobs are in London and the South East. Many high-flying and ambitious people who have a tradition of education in their families will relocate here.” This is clearly especially true in Oxford with its high proportion of professors and their families living and going to school in the area. The same is true in Cambridge although the other place seems not to have done quite as well in last week’s GCSE results with its highest achieving school, The Perse School, gaining 11% fewer A and A* grades than Magdalen College School.
Greggs has extended its lead over rival bakery, café and takeaway outlets in the BB75 league table.British Baker’s six-monthly update reveals that second-placed Subway has only notched up one extra shop this year taking its total to 1,410 while Greggs’ grand total is 1,437, up 18 since January. In 2009, Subway was only 10 outlets behind Greggs, but the difference is now 27-stores.Greggs, which makes its own products, unlike Subway and the big coffee chains, is set to continue to dominate retail bakery, with plans to add another 600 stores in the next few years.But third-placed Costa is snapping at the pair’s heels and has been the busiest in the last six months, opening 72 outlets. It raced away from rival Starbucks, and plans to have another 130 stores by the end of 2011.Caffè Nero also cranked up the pace, upping its total by 40 to 440 branches in the UK, and aims to open another 45 over the rest of 2010. With store growth up 10%, the coffee chain has the highest growth rate of the outlets in the top 10. Director Paul Ettinger said trading so far this year had been positive, with like-for-like sales growth in excess of 2%. “The market is very stable, the laws of economics state that there is room for three strong competitors and it is incredibly difficult for others to break in,” he said.A surprise success story was BB’s Coffee & Muffins which now has 100 shops up from 50 in January. It went into administration last year and, since then, former franchisees have been buying up its stores.l See pages 14-15 for the full BB75 update.>>Greggs lead major new UK bakery league table