Secondary schools in most parts of the North East are catching up with the rest of the country, new figures show.
Figures released yesterday on GCSE and A-level attainment show schools in Tyne and Wear and County Durham closing on the national average, though GCSE results in Northumberland have plunged to the lowest level in the region.
The number of pupils scoring five or more GCSEs in the county at C and above including maths and English fell to 55% - the first such drop since 2007.
The fall comes after Ofsted regional director Nick Hudson warned of an “unacceptable downward trend” where three quarters of schools had stalled or declined following a series of inspections across the county.
The region scored highly in the list of the most improved schools, with All Saints, Excelsior and St Mary’s in Newcastle, Thomas More, Churchill and Marden in North Tyneside, Bishop Barrington, Seaham, the Hermitage and Greenfield in County Durham, Biddick and Castle View in Sunderland and Cardinal Hume in Gateshead all among the best in the country.
There was also a high number of North East schools judged among the country’s best at vocational education, including Whickham in Gateshead, Northumberland CoE Academy, Blyth College, Ashington High and Berwick Academy in Northumberland, St Bede’s and St John’s in County Durham, plusSt Anthony’s and St Aidan’s in Sunderland.
The country’s top performing school was the private Durham School for Girls. Top performing state schools were Durham Johnston, Emmanuel College in Gateshead and St Anthony’s.
Excelsior principal Phil Marshall said: “Our GCSE results have rapidly improved year on year and last year was our best ever.
“We saw particularly strong performance in maths and science, which are testament to the outstanding teaching we offer at Excelsior and the dedication and hard work of our pupils. We are all thrilled to once again be among the top 200 most improved state secondary schools in the UK and we are working hard to build upon that performance for this year’s GCSE students.”
Parkside Academy in Durham had the best ‘value added’ score in the country - which measures how much pupils improve while at secondary school - while Emmanuel College Gateshead had 91% of their pupils score the crucial five-plus GCSEs.
Whickham School and Sports College in Newcastle was ranked 40th out of 3,000 schools nationwide on the league table for vocational courses.
Head teacher Steve Haigh said: “It’s fantastic that we’re so high on the national league tables and the top performing in Tyne and Wear for vocational subjects. These subjects are a way of developing personal skills and learning skills that are so important.
“Vocational courses are based entirely on work over two years, and the results these children have achieved has been down to resilience and hard work.
“I’m extremely proud of our students and teachers.”