Secondary school league tables in full: The three Yorkshire towns in UK list of shame

TENS of thousands of teenagers are still being failed by under performing secondary schools across the country according to league tables published today which show three Yorkshire education authorities are among the worst in the country.

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LEAGUE TABLES IN FULL

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Barnsley, Hull and Bradford were all in the bottom 10 in a national table of 150 council areas based on the performance of pupils in last summer's GCSEs. Barnsley had the second lowest pass rate in the country while Hull was the third worst.

North Yorkshire schools were the region's strongest performers at GCSE.

The newly-published statistics from the Department for Education also reveal that more than 200 secondaries in England are failing to meet tough new targets set by the Government at the end of last year.

This represents around seven per cent of all secondary schools.

In total, at 216 secondary schools with valid results, less than 35 per cent 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 per cent and for maths it was 65 per cent.

This year the coalition Government has increased the minimum standards expected of all secondary schools. Under Labour schools had been set the target of getting 30 per cent of pupils to achieve five good GCSEs including English and maths.

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

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

The league tables also suggest that secondary schools have turned their backs on traditional academic subjects in favour of other options,

Today's figures show that low numbers of pupils in many of England's secondaries are achieving the Government's flagship new "English Baccalaureate".

The measure, included for the first time this year, shows how many pupils are gaining at least a C grade in English, maths, a science, either history or geography, and a language.

An analysis of the tables suggests that at more than 3,000 schools less than half of teenagers reached the "English Bacc" benchmark. More than 300,000 children in total are taught at these schools.

The low numbers suggest that schools have been turning to other qualifications, such as vocational courses, which are often seen as "softer" options, rather than stick to traditional subjects.

It has previously been suggested that around one in six pupils nationally will achieve the "English Bacc" threshold.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate after saying last year he was "worried" by the decline in the number of students taking GCSE sciences and languages under the current system.

The tables also show how every school and education authority has performed at A-level. Kirklees was the strongest performing area in Yorkshire and the sixth best in the country

Today Mr Michael Gove said: "This is the most detail parents and the public have ever had about how children are performing in England's secondary schools.

"Children, parents and schools should be proud of their results, which have been achieved through all the hard work they have put in. But as the international evidence ... shows us, England still lags behind other nations. We have not succeeded in closing the gap and in raising attainment for all students.

"That's why we are reforming our school system by learning from the best-performing countries. In nearly every other developed country in the world, children are assessed in a range of core academic subjects at 15 or 16. That is why the coalition introduced the English Baccalaureate as a measure of performance.

"The key performance measure remains the number of children who get five A*-C passes at GCSE, including English and maths.

"I am open to arguments about how we can further improve every measure in the performance tables - including the English Baccalaureate. But I am determined to ensure that our exam standards match the highest standards around the world."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the teachers' union, said: "Publishing league tables is a meaningless exercise and it is time to abolish this unnecessary, divisive and demoralising ritual.

"The performance of schools cannot be evaluated by the crude blunt instrument of league tables.

"Dedicated teachers and hardworking pupils once again are seeing their efforts trashed.

"The coalition Government is pursuing a relentlessly elitist approach to education, condemning schools to live or die by the narrow range of subjects identified in the English baccalaureate.

"This narrow focus on a core range of academic subjects fails to acknowledge the different learning requirements of pupils.

"The rigid and inflexible judgments published today are of no value to parents or teachers and signal a bleak future for young people."

Secondary schools have turned their backs on traditional academic subjects in favour of other options, new league tables suggests.

They show that low numbers of pupils in many of England's secondaries are achieving the Government's flagship new "English Baccalaureate".

The measure, included for the first time this year, shows how many pupils are gaining at least a C grade in English, maths, science, either history or geography, and a language.

An analysis of the tables suggests that at more than 3,000 schools less than half of teenagers reached the "English Bacc" benchmark. More than 300,000 children in total are taught at these schools.

The low numbers suggest that schools have been turning to other qualifications, such as vocational courses, which are often seen as "softer" options, rather than stick to traditional subjects.

It has previously been suggested that around one in six pupils nationally will achieve the "English Bacc" threshold.

Education Secretary Michael Gove announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate after saying last year he was "worried" by the decline in the number of students taking GCSE sciences and languages under the current system.

But headteachers have expressed fury that the measure has been included in this year's tables, just two months after it was officially confirmed.

They have said it is "unfair" on schools to bring the measure in so quickly.

A league table of the top 200 schools in terms of the Baccalaureate puts Bishop Wordsworth's Grammar School in Salisbury top, with 98% of pupils achieving the measure.

Headmaster Stuart Smallwood said the school, which caters for boys aged 11-18, has always had a "traditional academic curriculum".

He said he was in favour of "the traditional approach" and that it was "probably right" that Mr Gove has introduced the Baccalaureate.

But he acknowledged there had been some "disquiet" amongst some headteachers about its introduction, which he said may not have been done in the best way.

"It's a bit like asking you to take an exam syllabus and then saying the exam's changed.

"To be fair, schools should probably have been given warning so that they could, if they wanted, make any adjustments to their curriculum."

He said that giving pupils a broad curriculum up to GCSE allows the school to see how they are doing, and allows pupils to keep their options open.

At Dartford Grammar School, some 97% of boys attained the "English Bacc" measure.

Headmaster John Oakes said: "At Dartford Grammar School we are convinced that the English Baccalaureate at GCSE prepares students extremely well for the broad and balanced demands of the prestigious International Baccalaureate Diploma programme in the sixth form, an excellent route to future success at university and beyond.

"We are pleased that the new English Baccalaureate benchmark recognises the importance of languages - the most under-valued area of the English curriculum."

But Ian Johnson, principal at Marlowe Academy, which came third from bottom in terms of percentage of pupils achieving five Cs at GCSE including English and maths, raised concerns.

"In the current year about 10% have a chance to get the English Baccalaureate. We can't change what the students are studying in the middle of the year," he said.

"We are making changes for students due to begin GCSE studies in September.

"I think the focus on English, Maths and Science is right, but why humanities has to be History or Geography is a mystery.

"Whether the English Baccalaureate is right for students of all types is questionable.

"I think for some students it's an appropriate curriculum, but for others it isn't."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) previously told BBC online that the "English Bacc" was a "retrospective indicator".

"It's an indicator over which schools have no control as it was not in place when the children concerned studied for their exams," he said.

"This is going to disadvantage schools in poorer areas. This is a very academic qualification."

A further analysis of the figures suggests that, at around 2,500 secondaries, fewer than a quarter (25%) of pupils are achieving the English Bacc. This figure includes private schools.

This suggests that estimates that 15% of teenagers nationally will meet the benchmark are on target.

Around 3,950 schools are included in today's tables, excluding those that are closed.

The majority of schools listed in the tables are state schools.