The first group of Open Access Students at the GDST’s Belvedere School in Liverpool to take their GCSEs has delivered the best results the School has ever had with 63.2% of all examinations passed with A*/A grades and 88.1% at A*-B. This compares with the 2004 results with 56.1% A*A and 81% A*-B. This demonstrates the huge added value that the School has provided for the pioneering group of pupils who, in September 2000, entered The Belvedere School – the first independent school in the UK to introduce an Open Access Scheme.

Using the standard CAT (Cognitive Abilities Test) used in school year 7, which predicts GCSE results for pupils at the start of an average educational experience, only 1% of the GCSEs taken in the key subjects – English literature and language and mathematics – in 2005 at The Belvedere School would have been passed at Grade A*. Instead, 18% were passed at A* grade. This 17% difference demonstrates considerable added value. CAT is used throughout the educational system in England to measure Value Added performance.

The Open Access scheme was pioneered by the Sutton Trust and the Girls’ Day School Trust with the first group of 11-year-old girls coming to the school in September 2000. Under this scheme, pupils are offered places, following entrance examinations at age 11, based on performance and potential alone, but not on ability to pay. At The Belvedere School up to two-thirds of pupils come from families whose financial situation means that it would be impossible for them to pay the fees of this high achieving independent school without help from the Scheme.

The Open Access Scheme has given the Belvedere a wider social mix but it has not lost its warm supportive atmosphere, where highly qualified teachers set high expectations and motivate students to achieve them. This is not an exclusive institution with a sprinkling of places reserved for bursary pupils, but a school which is truly part of its local community in which the girls are deeply committed to the school and its success.

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