SCHOOLS in the Ribble Valley have seen their GCSE pass rates soar.

Newly released figures have shown a 9.6 per cent rise in the percentage of pupils gaining five A*-C GCSEs.

The pass rate now stands at 70.5 per cent – well above the national average.

Meanwhile the figures for Burnley have plummeted, Hyndburn’s results are slightly down and Blackburn with Darwen’s have risen slightly.

The national average was 60.1 per cent, with the Lancashire figure coming in at 60.9 per cent.

This was in contrast to 44.4 per cent in Burnley, down 1.3 per cent, Hyndburn 57 per cent, down 4.4 per cent, and Blackburn with Darwen 59.5, up 2.5 per cent.

Michael Wright, head at St Augustine's, Billington, said. “There was a tougher regime implemented on GCSE grades this year but our students rose to the challenge with excellent results across the board.”

In Hyndburn, results fell from 61.4 to 57 per cent, with Norden High School seeing a drop from 51 per cent to 41 per cent, and Mount Carmel RC High Accrington, falling from 54 per cent to 48 per cent.

Accrington Academy fell nine per cent to 51 per cent, while St Christopher’s, also in Accrington, increased from 68 per cent to 79 per cent.

Paul Trickett, head of Rhyddings High School, Oswaldtwistle, said he was pleased to see continuous improvement in his school, where results increased from 48 per cent to 52 per cent.

He said: “We are pleased to see continuous rises here and have been one of the most improved schools in Lancashire.

“It’s a challenge when the goalposts are frequently being changed, particularly with the English GCSE which has changed twice mid-year.”

Hyndburn Council’s member for schools Ciaran Wells said: “The results show there is more work to be done to raise educational standards.

“We have committed staff, parents and pupils who are working really hard to keep standards high.”

In Blackburn with Darwen schools, attainment of five A* to C grades including English and maths was just a shade below the national average.

This year’s figure of 59.5 was up 2.5 percent from last year’s 57 per cent.

Witton Park headteacher Dean Logan said: “We have seen our figures rise here at Witton Park as well as seeing attainment rise nationally. It was a surprise to see schools doing well at a time when it was forecast that schools would struggle.

“We are pleased to have kept up at the national average level and next year hope to go as high as 70 and get through that 60 per cent barrier.”

Cabinet member for schools at Blackburn with Darwen Council Dave Harling said: “We are getting closer and closer to closing the gap with national levels. From two per cent under we are now just one per cent.

“Not only have we improved attainment for free school meal children but we are also doing really well with children with special educational needs.

“Having a very locally based education authority has helped us keep a very close focus in Blackburn and Darwen.”