Exam results have shot up in one of Birmingham's most troubled schools thanks to a pioneering scheme in which it was taken over by a top headteacher.
The GCSE pass rate more than tripled at Kings Norton High after it formed a "federation" with the city's leading comprehensive.
The improvement contributed to an overall increase in the proportion of Birmingham pupils gaining five or more passes at grades A* to C, from 51 per cent to 54 per cent.
Yesterday's results showed the city was continuing to improve faster than the national average.
But there was still a huge gap to make up, as 61 per cent of pupils across the country achieved the benchmark five good grades, up two per cent on last year.
There was also concern as it emerged the number of GCSE students taking modern languages had plummeted nationally.
Kings Norton High recorded the greatest improvement in Birmingham, with results shooting up from 16 per cent achieving five good grades to 50 per cent.
Last year the school entered a federation with Kings Norton Girls, which regularly tops league tables for the most successful non-selective college in the city.
Pat Beanland, head of the girls school, became executive headteacher, effectively running both schools. City council official Nicky Kendall was appointed headteacher.
The partnership is one of three federations in the city, which involve heads from successful schools playing a leading role in colleges which have been struggling.
Other improving schools included Kingsbury School and Sports College in Erdington, where the proportion of pupils achieving five high grades rose from 32 per cent to 53 per cent.
Lordswood Girls' School in Harborne, one of the highestachieving schools, saw eight pupils gain A* or A grades in all 13 GCSEs taken.
Councillor Les Lawrence, the city council cabinet member for education and lifelong learning said: "These are Birmingham's best ever set of results, bringing us closer to the national average."
The national results prompted headteachers' calls for Ministers to reverse the decision to make foreign languages optional, after the number of youngsters taking French fell by 14.4 per cent, from 318,095 to 272,140.
There were just 105,288 exam entries in German this year, compared with 122,023 last year.
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "The collapse in languages is a catastrophe. The Government is going to have to reverse its policy of allowing students to opt out at 14."
Schools Minister Jacqui Smith, MP for Redditch, said she had expected a decrease in the numbers studying languages.
She said: "I'm pleased the pass rates have actually improved.
"There are other ways in which you can be inspired to learn languages."
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