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Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 00:02 GMT
Selective schools top tables
students at colchester county high
Girls' grammars have done well
The English secondary school tables - the ninth annual performance tables - are again dominated by selective and independent schools.

Most of the top places in terms of GCSE achievement were taken by grammar or independent schools.

But for the first time a comprehensive saw all its fifth formers get top GCSE or GNVQ grades.

Thomas Telford City Technology College in Shropshire comes in third place overall out of some 4,000 schools.

Click here for the full tables

Thomas Telford's head, Kevin Satchwell - who calls himself "probably the luckiest head teacher in the country" - said the success had been hard won.

As a CTC it was created under one of the last Conservative government's main education ideas, freed up from some of the constraints of the mainstream state system.

Its working day and week are longer than normal and all the staff are on performance-related pay.

A-level stars

The top two schools at GCSE level are Buckinghamshire grammars: Aylesbury and Dr Challoner's.

In the A-level table, fee-paying schools take the first seven places, with Withington Girls' School in Manchester top.

Four of the others are also girls' schools - but the best maintained school is boys-only: Colchester Royal Grammar in Essex.

The first comprehensive in the A-level table, in 83rd place, is Tarporley Community High School in Tarporley, Cheshire.

And the tables show the other side of the selective coin.

The highest-ranking modern school - the non-selective secondaries in areas of selection - is Hillview School for Girls in Tonbridge, Kent.

Almost three quarters of its students achieved five top GCSE grades, even though the more academically able will have been "creamed off" by local grammar schools.

At the other end of the performance scale the state school with the worst GCSE results is to close at the end of the current school year.

Only 3% of the students at Gillingham Community College in Kent obtained A* to C grade GCSE passes this year. The national average was 49.2%.

Although that was an improvement on 1999, when none managed to get five good grades, the school's poor record in recent years has led the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, to agree its closure.

Hit by falling numbers

The decision is partly financial - the college's budget deficit is expected to hit 810,000 by next August.

Many students leave before reaching their final year, according to a spokesman for Medway Towns Council, and more than two thirds have special educational needs.

Remaining pupils are to be transferred to Upbury Manor nearby, which had been expanded to cope with the increase, he said - although that school is also near the bottom of the performance table.

There were no plans to re-open Gillingham Community College under the Fresh Start scheme.

The spokesman said: "The school is being closed at the end of the summer term next year because it is losing a lot of money, has received bad reports from Ofsted and has performed poorly in the league tables.

Worst for truancy

"Of the 400 pupils at the school four years ago, only 120 remain and this has been a large contributor to the deficit.

"All the pupils will be re-schooled and a support network has been set up to make sure the transition will be as easy as possible for them."

The school with the worst truancy record said it was working hard to tackle the problem.

Non-attendance rates at Parr Community High School in St Helens, Merseyside, more than doubled to 13%, beating last year's bottom performer, St George's School in Maida Vale, London, into second place.

The head teacher, Bob Coward, said he would be using the tables to "reinforce" to parents the message that their children must attend school.

"Lots of strategies are in place to promote better attendance and the local education authority is working closely with the school on this," he said.

The school serves an ex-mining community with high levels of unemployment and half the children are eligible for free school meals, he added.

See also:

25 Sep 00 | Education
Campaigners against grammars to quit
13 Jul 00 | Education
Blunkett predicts demise of grammars
18 Apr 00 | Hot Topics
Parent power
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