A Midland secondary ranked among the worst in the country faces closure following today's league tables measuring school performance.

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Only 12 per cent of pupils at Wulstan Catholic School in Rugby, Warwickshire, gained five decent GCSEs last year - the sixth worst result in the country.

Education chiefs believe the school is no longer viable and will launch a four-week consultation period on Monday with parents and teachers before making a decision.

The voluntary aided mixed school had 365 pupils aged 11-16 on its roll, according to an Ofsted inspection report in 2003.

Sixty-nine pupils were eligible for last year's GCSEs on which today's tables are based.

Head teacher Brendan Higgins said: "The news has been a shock. The consultation period is crucial - people need to look at the education provision within Rugby and make their views known."

Until a final decision was made, he said it would be "business as usual" at the school. But Mark Gore, Warwickshire deputy chief education officer, said low level of interest for admission in 2006 made it "impossible" to ensure an adequate education.

Today's national results saw Schools Minister and Labour MP for Redditch Jacqui Smith claiming GCSE attainment was at "record highs never before achieved in education in this country".

Birmingham made an unprecedented 21-place leap up a ranking of 150 education authorities to 50th position nationally.

It saw 56.7 per cent of its pupils gain five or more GCSEs graded between A* and C, compared with a national average of 57.1 per cent.

However, the authority admitted the rise was partly down to greater use of GNVQs - a vocational exam regarded as equal to GCSEs which will be scrapped next year.

Waverley School in Small Heath was top in the country for improving its pass rate of five or more A* to Cs between 2002 and 2005. It is also the city's most dependent user of GNVQs with 71 per cent of grades obtained through the vocational option.

Birmingham's Selly Park Technology College for Girls had the best record of improving the attainment of pupils from entry to when they take GCSEs, the so-called value added score.

Head teacher Michelle Magrs celebrated the achievement by saying the tables were not trustworthy because "you can make anything out of statistics" and calling for their abolition.

Birmingham's head of education, Councillor Les Lawrence (Con Northfield), said: "It is outstanding to have two Birmingham secondary schools topping DfES tables. This is testament to the hard work of staff at Selly Park and Waverley and the entire city for overall improvements."

The Government's flagship city academies also came under fire after seven of the 14 that have been open long enough for 2005 GCSE results to be included in the tables were among the bottom 200 secondaries in the country.

But the privately sponsored schools - Birmingham plans to create seven - were defended by the Midland head of the country's top performing secondary.

Sir Kevin Satchwell, of Thomas Telford School in Shropshire, said his school - a city technology college similar to academies - was also heavily criticised when it was created 15 years ago.

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