BRUM PUPILS KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AT GCSE; How Your School Rates Secondary Schools across Birmingham Today Revealed Their Latest GCSE Examination Results. Mail Education Correspondent TONY COLLINS Reports on Yet Another Success Story

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BIRMINGHAM'S improving secondary school children have done it again - with yet another rise in their GCSE exam performance.

Today's modest one per cent improvement continues the year-on-year success which began when GCSEs replaced the old-style O level exam a decade ago.

City education officials praised the latest increase in exam passes, but warned that urgent work still needed to be done to bring boys up to scratch.

The overall proportion of pupils gaining the benchmark five or more top A to C grades rose from last year's 35 per cent to a new record high of 36 per cent.

It is now double the 18 per cent success rate achieved by Birmingham's secondary pupils in 1988 when GCSEs were introduced.

Although the figure is still well down on the national pass rate of 46 per cent for five or more A-C's, the city continues to close the gap.

Over the past three years, Birmingham's improvement rate has gone up by five per cent compared to only two per cent nationally.

Positive impact

However, the city still has some way to go to achieve its target of 45 per cent by the year 2002.

The number of pupils gaining at least five passes also rose - from 82 per cent to 83 per cent - while 91 per cent of youngsters now leave school with at least one GCSE, compared to 90 per cent last year.

Birmingham's chief education officer Professor Tim Brighouse said that schools were reaping the benefit of "millennium" targets for improvement.

He said: "There are many examples now of schools introducing strategies to raise achievement which have had a positive impact on examination performance. …