SOUTHAMPTON schools topped the county’s class for the progress students made throughout their secondary education, yesterday’s GCSE league tables revealed.

St Anne’s, St George, and Regents Park schools all finished above their Hampshire counterparts in terms of their Progress 8 score.

Released as part of yesterday’s GCSE league tables, the indicator takes into account the educational level at which pupils enter a school.

It then compares it to the results of a pupil’s best eight GCSE results – including both English and maths.

And according to the tables, last year’s GCSE students at the city’s three best schools achieved on average an extra half grade more than they were expected to.

Executive head of both St Anne’s and Swaythling-based St George, Lyn Bourne, described the results as a “wonderful achievement”.

She said: “It’s really lovely to lead the top two schools in the city and in the Hampshire (authority) area.

“It’s a wonderful achievement for the school and in terms of the improvement of the last two years.

“It’s a testament to the strong teachers, parents and students who work hard to make sure they have not been disadvantaged by the recent changes to examinations.”

Although Southampton schools took the top three spots, non-city schools still dominated the county’s top 10 in terms of Progress 8.

The Westgate School in Winchester was the best performing school in the Hampshire authority area.

The Toynbee School (+0.23), in Eastleigh, Hounsdown School (+0.20), in Totton, and the Mountbatten School (+0.20) in Romsey were all ranked “above average” for their Progress 8 score.

In Southampton, Oasis academies Lord’s Hill (-0.16) and Mayfield (-0.07) were both rated “average” for Progress 8.

City council maintained schools Cantell and Bitterne Park (+0.1) schools were both graded “average” in terms of their Progress 8 score.

However, students at Cantell did manage an average 0.13 per cent increase in their grades than predicted – making it one of the city’s top performing schools.

Head teacher, Harry Kutty, said: “Despite the significant changes to the secondary curriculum and the way youngsters are examined and graded, I continue to be extremely proud of the achievements of our city.

“The league tables published today confirm that Cantell continues to be one of the best performing schools across Southampton and Hampshire.”

At the other end of the table, one Southampton school scored lower than the government’s floor standard of – 0.5 in Progress 8.

That was Woodlands Community College, in Harefield, which had a score of -0.85 – the worst performing mainstream school in the Hampshire area.

The school did not respond to a request for comment.

Chamberlayne College for the Arts (-0.35) and The Sholing Technology College (-0.46), both council maintained, were rated “below average” in their Progress 8 score.

However they both avoided falling under the government’s floor standard.

Cllr Paffey, Labour cabinet member for education and skills, said: “The secondary school results clearly show that the majority of secondary schools in Southampton are providing a good education where students are making real progress and achieving their potential.

“In particular, St Anne’s, St George’s, and Regents Park schools have done very well, achieving scores that are well above the national average in the league tables announced today.

“Six other secondary schools in the city are graded as having met the national average.

“Unfortunately, three schools failed to meet this standard and the council is providing support to these schools to ensure that the recent improvements in exam results are sustained.”

Meanwhile, five Hampshire schools in the area also fell below the government’s floor standard.

These were Test Valley School (Stockbridge), Crestwood Community School (Eastleigh), Applemore College (Dibden), and Bridgemary School and Brune Park Community School, both in Gosport.

Despite this, Hampshire schools generally outperformed Southampton schools in terms of another performance indicator – Attainment 8.

The indicator measures a student’s average grade across eight subjects – the same subjects that count towards Progress 8.

Westgate School in Winchester topped that table, followed by Thornden in Eastleigh, and Kings’ School, also in Winchester.

Councillor Peter Edgar, executive member for education at Hampshire County Council, said: “Hampshire’s pupils, their families, and schools can be very proud of what they have achieved together.

“While the DfE tables indicate that for a small minority of Hampshire schools, student progress is below the national standard, this is not necessarily a fair reflection of their quality.

“Often, the reason that the progress 8 score appears to be lower than those of some schools in neighbouring authorities is because Hampshire children were at a higher level of attainment at the starting point for this measure and had less of a journey to make such good progress.”

On average, students at Hampshire schools were also more likely to get what experts are describing as a “strong pass” in a English and maths under the new grading system, introduced last summer.

Alongside toughening the exams, the DfE also introduced a numerical grading system for English and maths, meaning they are now graded 1 to 9, with 9 being the top grade.

All other subjects have retained the alphabetical grading system.

For these exams, a pass, previously A*-C, is accepted as a grade 4-9.

However, the DfE also use a grade of 5-9, labelled a “strong pass”, in their performance measurements.

In the top performing Southampton schools, more than 50 per cent achieved a “strong pass” in English and maths, while just 15 per cent achieved the mark at Woodlands.

In Hampshire, 71 per cent of students at Kings’s School in Winchester achieved a “strong pass”.

Only 15 per cent of students at Brune Park Community School in Gosport achieved the same grade.

Nationally, the figures show that more than a million children are being taught at under-performing schools.

One in eight of England’s mainstream secondaries – 365 in total – fell below the government’s minimum standards in 2017, according to the DfE’s statistics.

That is is up from 282 schools, just under one in 10 compared to the year before.

This means 260,783 schoolchildren are now being taught at under-performing secondaries – about one in 12.

The government says the rise could be caused by the technical changes to the points system used by government statisticians to calculate a school’s performance.

School standards minister, Nick Gibb, said: “Academic standards are rising in our schools thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, with 1.9million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.

“These results reinforce this success, with teachers and pupils responding well to the new more rigorous curriculum introduced by this government.

“The attainment gap between the most disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed by 10 per cent since 2011, and more disadvantaged pupils are studying the core academic subjects, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills they need to make the most of their lives.

“Many free schools and academies are also delivering excellent results.

“We will continue to use this evidence to drive up standards even further so that pupils leave school prepared for future success in their education and beyond, helping to build a Britain that is fit for the future.”