Top 100 secondary schools in UK

School league tables: Quarter of a million pupils taught at failing secondaries, figures show

The other 17 schools were among 327 schools that opted in to a new "Progress 8" performance measure, which looks at the progress of pupils across eight subjects and fell below a certain threshold for this target. From next year, all schools will be measured against "Progress 8".

An analysis of the data also reveals that a child's chances of attending a decent school still depend heavily on where they live, with 10 or more under-performing secondaries in some areas, and none in others.

The Department for Education (DfE) does not publish a list of schools falling below its floor targets but according to the analysis, using the DfE's methodology for calculating under-performing schools, three of those falling below the benchmark this year were free schools - a key part of Conservative education reforms.

These schools are: Robert Owen Academy in Hereford, Saxmundham Free School in Suffolk and St Michael's Catholic Secondary School in Camborne, Cornwall, which was the only state secondary school to fall below the floor standard in the county.

A total of 188 under-performing schools are academies, the analysis shows, while 50 are council-run schools, 45 are foundation schools, 14 are voluntary-aided and the others include university technical colleges, studio schools and further education colleges catering to 14 to 16-year-olds.

A DfE spokesman said that free schools are a key part of the Government's drive for educational excellence.

"The number of free schools with exam results is still too small to allow robust conclusions to be drawn, " he insisted. "But under-performance at any school is unacceptable, and one of the strengths of the free schools programme is that when we spot failure we can act quickly."

The figures come as ministers stressed that officials are stepping up efforts to “tackle those pockets of persistent underperformance so every child fulfils their potential”.

Students at Nottingham Girls High School receive their results

The new GCSE and A-level performance tables, based on results achieved by pupils in 2015, also showed a continuing challenge in raising the attainment of white working class boys, which represent one of the lowest performing groups of pupils.

The number of pupils at failing secondary schools for 2015 stood at 250, 955 compared to 274, 351 in 2014.

The analysis, by the Press Association, also shows that five areas have at least 10 under-performing schools. These are Kent (20 schools), Birmingham (11), Lancashire (11), Lincolnshire (10) and Northamptonshire (10). At the other end of the scale, there were 41 areas with no failing schools.

Blackpool had the highest proportion of pupils at an under-performing school, with 48.6 per cent of youngsters not getting a decent education. This was followed by Knowsley, where 47.7 per cent of pupils are in a failing secondary, and Nottingham where 35.7 per cent of youngsters are at schools under the floor targets.

The top school for GCSE results this year was The Blue Coat School, an academy in Liverpool, where all 124 students gained at least five C grades, including English and maths, and the average points score per pupil was 696.1.

The figures also show a rise in the numbers of youngsters taking the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography, the DfE said, with nearly 88, 000 more teenagers taking these academic subjects compared to 2010.

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