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Volume 486: debated on Wednesday 21 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families how many schools are in the National Challenge; and if he will make a statement. (249436)

The final 2008 GCSE results show that the number of schools where fewer than 30 per cent. of pupils attain five higher grade GCSEs including English and Maths has fallen to 440 compared to 631 last year and 783 two years ago.

The 2008 figure represents about 14 per cent. of maintained secondary schools compared with an equivalent proportion of over 50 per cent. in 1997. In addition, the National Challenge is providing support for some schools which are above the 30 per cent. floor target in order to secure or consolidate their performance. Some of these schools were in the National Challenge in 2007, but are continuing to receive support. Others are schools which were identified by their local authority because, although they are not in the National Challenge, they would benefit from the types of support it can offer to help them to raise attainment further.