Poor schools failing thousands of teenagers

Tens of thousands of teenagers are still being failed by poor secondary schools, league tables suggested today.

Newly-published statistics show that more than 200 secondaries in England are failing to meet tough new targets set by the Government at the end of last year.

That is around 7% of schools with valid and published results.

In total, at 216 secondary schools with valid results, less than 35% of pupils got at least five C grades in their GCSEs, including English and maths, and fewer youngsters made two levels of progress between 11 and 16 than the national average in the two subjects.

According to the figures, the national average for making expected progress in English this year was 72% and for maths it was 65%.

Schools that fail to reach the target have been warned they will be tagged as "underperforming" and face closure or being taken over.

The target was introduced as part of a major overhaul of England's schools system.

An analysis of the statistics suggests that almost 180,000 pupils were taught at these schools in 2009/10 and of these around 35,000 were taking their GCSEs last summer.

The league tables are based on GCSE, as well as A-level results, for last summer.

Selective grammar schools continued to dominate the top of the tables - England's best school this year, in terms of pupils gaining five A*-C grades at GCSE including English and maths, was Lawrence Sheriff School, a selective boys' school, in Rugby.

All of its 106 pupils reached this benchmark.

Headteacher Dr Peter Kent said: "We've got a very good curriculum to give the students a chance to pursue their own individual aims and aspirations.

"We focus on hard work but everyone in the school community is involved and we want people to be happy. There is a lot of sport, music and drama."

The worst school in the country was The Lafford High School in Billinghay, Lincolnshire, where just 8% of pupils achieved five A*-Cs including English and maths.

A note on the school's website said it was due to close in 2010.

Third from the bottom was The Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate, where 14% of pupils got at least 5 C grades, including English and maths.

Ian Johnson, principal at Marlowe Academy, said he was "not in the slightest bit worried about league table positions", but admitted he was disappointed with the school's results.

"In terms of English and Maths - in particular English - we have been slow to rise to the challenge.

"The league position is irrelevant. It's about the students reaching their potential.

"We are disappointed, we have to do better and we are working hard to do this."

The tables suggest that around a quarter of those listed in the league table of the worst 200 schools in the country are academies.

These semi-independent state schools, first established under Tony Blair's Labour government, have been championed by the coalition Government.

One in 10 secondary schools is now an academy, Government figures show, and there are now 407 academies open in England, - double the number open in May last year when there were 203.

For the first time, the Government has also published today figures showing how each school spends its money, making it possible for parents to see what public funds are being spent on.

Previously published national figures for England showed that 53.1% of pupils scored five GCSEs at grade C or higher, including English and maths in 2010.

Some 59.9% got at least two C grades and science, while 31.5% got a C

or higher in a modern foreign language.

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