Yorkshire's failing schools at bottom of UK league: Hear informed debate

SCHOOLS in three Yorkshire council areas delivered some of the worst GCSE results in the country according to damning league tables which show tens of thousands of teenagers across the country are still being failed by under performing secondaries.

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Barnsley, Hull and Bradford schools were all in the bottom 10 of a national table of 150 local education authorities published yesterday – despite pupils delivering improved pass rates.

The figures show Barnsley had the country's second lowest level of students reaching the Government's benchmark of getting five good GCSE grades including English and maths.

Almost 60 per cent of pupils in the town failed to achieve this, according to yesterday's figures. Only Knowsley, in Merseyside, had a lower success rate in England.

Tables reveal Hull schools were the third worst nationally with 42 per cent of pupils making the grade while Bradford was ranked eighth from bottom with less than half of its students reaching the expected standard. However education bosses in all three authorities praised pupils for delivering improved – and in some cases – record GCSE results.

There were 216 secondary schools across the country including 40 in Yorkshire which failed to hit the tough new Government benchmark for GCSE standards and could now be targeted for intervention or closure.

Ministers expect all schools to get 35 per cent of pupils to achieve five good GCSEs including maths and English – five per cent higher than the target set by the Labour Government. Schools are branded as underperforming if they fail to meet the 35 per cent mark and have not kept up with the national average level of progress being made by pupils in maths and English between the ages of 11 and 16. Nationally almost 180,000 pupils were taught at under-performing schools in 2009/10 and of these around 35,000 were taking their GCSEs last summer.

But despite the tougher new floor targets fewer schools in Yorkshire failed to meet the minimum standard than last year.

The region had more than one in ten of the worst secondary schools in the country based on GCSEs. Sir Henry Cooper School in Hull had the lowest GCSE pass rate in the region with just over a fifth of pupils achieving the national target. In a league table of England's worst 200 secondaries based on GCSE passes 33 were from Yorkshire.

Grammar schools continued to dominate the tables measuring success in the region. Heckmondwike recorded the best GCSE results in Yorkshire and Ermysted's in Skipton celebrated the best A-levels.

Education bosses at some of the region's lowest ranked authorities were also celebrating the progress pupils made in yesterday's tables.

A Barnsley Council statement said: "The level of students achieving five or more GCSEs at grade C or above has increased by nine per cent in 2010, giving an overall score of 70 per cent. This is almost twice the national rate of improvement and an additional rise of 12 places amongst local authority rankings. In the other national measure of five or more GCSEs at grade C or above including English and maths, results have improved by a further one per cent."

Bradford Council and Education Bradford, the private firm responsible for academic standards, said the 44.4 per cent of Bradford pupils achieving the benchmark was 12 per cent higher than when this measure was introduced five years ago.

Hull Council's portfolio holder for education Coun Christine Randall said: "Eleven out of our 14 schools improved their results this year and four of those were by over 10 per cent, which is a great achievement."