19th July 2015

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Independent secondary school teachers are three times more likely to have a degree from Oxford or Cambridge than their state sector equivalents, according to new research.

The Sutton Trust reports that one in six professionals teaching at an independent school have graduated from Oxbridge. Additionally, secondary teachers in private education are more likely to have pursued further education beyond their degree.

Its study, Teaching by Degrees, noted that teachers in independent schools will, compared to their peers outside the sector, have added a postgraduate degree in their eventual teaching subject.

This is especially the case when it comes to subjects like maths and physics, the paper outlined. Moreover, the Sutton Trust found that further commitment to developing their specialism is likely with Oxbridge students.

For example, it observed that one in 15 independent secondary school teachers are with a PhD, compared to approximately one in 40 in secondary state schools.

“Independent schools have long recognised that teachers with high quality qualifications are hugely important in helping pupils achieve the best grades they can” commented Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council.

“Teachers with specialised subject knowledge are best equipped to instil enthusiasm for learning in students and our schools continue to seek highly qualified graduates who can be trained and developed professionally into first rate teachers.”

He added that independent schools are keen to share this wealth of knowledge and expertise with state schools to help boost their teaching prowess, commenting that already 93 per cent of schools in its network are in some sort of partnership.

These partnerships with state schools help enrich the learning experience, with independent schools commonly offering specialist classes in typical subjects, as well as in subjects not usually on offer in state schools.

Other findings from the report state that over half of professionals in independent secondary schools have a degree from a Russell Group university. These universities include the University of Birmingham, the University of Leeds and Newcastle University.

According to the Russell Group, these universities are “committed to the highest levels of academic excellence in both teaching and research”.

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