Education chiefs are planning to close a failing secondary school where only 12 per cent of pupils gained the target five or more good GCSEs last year.

Only 25 11-year-olds have selected to go to Wulstan Catholic School in Rugby, Warwickshire, next year which has seen a steady decline in results for several years.

As a result, Warwickshire County Council claims the school has become "non-viable" and has decided to start consulting on closure next week.

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Mark Gore, the authority's deputy county education officer, said: "Unfortunately, the small size of the school has made it vulnerable. Low pupil numbers result in a low budget, which makes it hard to sustain the curriculum and to continue improvement."

Mr Gore said the low level of GCSE attainment was not the main reason for closure, but admitted it was "an added matter of concern".

The authority promised to make "special arrangements" for Year Ten pupils who are mid-way through their GCSE studies.

Parents will be offered alternative schools locally, it said, and those wishing their child to continue with a Catholic education would be provided with free transport to Trinity Catholic School in Leamington Spa.

Mr Gore said: "The highest priority during this period will be to maintain and protect the education of the pupils currently in the school."

He added the decision to consult on closure did not "reflect badly" on staff, nor on the "energetic and committed leadership" of its headteacher Brendan Higgins and the management team.

The proportion of pupils at Bishop Wulstan gaining five or more GCSEs graded between A* and C fell by eight per cent last year.

In 2003, the pass rate was almost three times higher than last year at 34 per cent.

The 2005 result places the school sixth from the bottom nationally for the proportion of pupils with five or more good GCSEs, regarded as the minimum needed for future attainment.

The West Midlands had two other schools that failed to reach a Government "floor target" of at least 20 per cent of pupils hitting the benchmark.

They were Rushall Community College in Walsall and Pensnett School of Technology in Brierley Hill, which both saw only 17 per cent of pupils reach the level.