A GROWING number of special-ist schools are beginning to challenge the remaining grammar schools for top slots in the GCSE exams league tables.
Three of the Government's City Technology Colleges achieved results which would have put them in the top 100 of selective schools, according to results compiled by The Independent.
The top performer was Thomas Telford school, which not only became the only comprehensive to get all of its GCSE candidates to obtain five A* to C grade passes but also scored the highest marks per candidate of any school in the country. Its success will cheer ministers because it is a model of good practice for struggling neighbouring comprehensives, an idea to be promoted by Estelle Morris, the Education Secretary, for the coming term.
Two schools already send their pupils to the college in Telford, Shropshire, for one day a week. One of them, Langley Park in Solihull, which was on a list of schools with "serious weaknesses" compiled by the Government watchdog Ofsted, has already seen a dramatic improvement in its exam results. The number of its pupils gaining give top grade passes has more than doubled, from 19 per cent to 42 per cent.
Brooke Weston City Technology College (CTC) in Corby, Northamptonshire, and the controversial Emmanuel CTC in Gateshead, which was accused of teaching its pupils creationism in science lessons, are the others to have broken into the hallowed ground of the grammar schools' league table. In all, five comprehensive schools would make a combined top 100.
It is more difficult for a non-selective school to break through at GCSE level because the exam is taken by pupils of all ability whereas pupils can quit education before A-levels.
Staff at Brooke Weston CTC were particularly pleased yesterday that their girls and boys performed equally well, despite the nine per cent lead in the number of top grade passes achieved by girls nationally. …