The threat of closure was hanging over 17 schools in the West Midlands last night following poor performances in last year's GCSEs.

The schools fell well below the Government's floor target of at least 30 per cent of pupils gaining five good GCSE passes including English and maths.

Schools Minister Jim Knight yesterday re-iterated the Government's determination to take "radical action" on worst-performing schools.

"Poor performance is not tolerated," he said.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year stressed his determination to move on schools that fail to hit the 30 per cent floor target by 2012 in response to industry complaints of low numeracy and literacy among school-leavers.

The region's 17 most vulnerable schools identified in this year's league tables all saw less than 20 per cent of pupils gaining five or more A* to Cs, including English and maths.

They include six in Birmingham, one of which was Kings Norton High - the region's worst-performing school for GCSEs and for truancy rates.

Solihull's Grace Academy - which opened a year ago backed by millionaire Black Country businessman Bob Edmiston - is also among the 17. Only 19 per cent of teenagers at the new school gained five or more GCSEs including English and maths.

Last year's GCSE results saw 46 per cent of teenagers nationally gain five or more higher grade GCSEs, including English and maths.

The proportion in Birmingham was 41.6 per cent.