EAST Lancashire schools are continuing to improve and beat the national average, performance tables released today show.

The Government stats showed 66.4 per cent of Blackburn with Darwen pupils passed at least five GCSEs and 65.1 per cent of Lancashire County Council students.

This compares to the national average of 64.8 per cent.

Clitheroe Grammar School was again listed in the top 200 schools while its Ribble Valley counterpart Bowland High School was listed in the top 200 most improved state secondary schools.

And for the measures which rates schools according to its context, rather than just exam results, Blakewater College, Blackburn, Tauheedul Islam Girls High School and Haslingden High School were in the top 100.

However Hameldon Community College, Burnley, Shuttleworth College, Burnley, West Craven High Technology College, Barnoldswick and Norden High School and Sports College, Rishton, were in the bottom 300 for this measure.

Conversly, despite the low score Norden High School showed one of the largest increased in GCSEs pass rates this year which jumped from 34 per cent to 47 per cent.

Robert Flood, head of Norden High School, said: “We are really pleased with the results particularly with the pass rates for five GCSEs with Maths and English. I am really pleased with the performance and the progress is fantastic. I’m pleased the focus is back to Maths and English.”

Gwen Onyon, head of Witton Park High School, which scored highly in the contextual measure, said: “The school’s results for 2008 are a testimony to the continuing hard work of the staff and the pupils at Witton Park.

“The school has once again added a great deal of value to the education of our success of our students. It is a phenomenal success.”

County Coun Jennifer Mein, cabinet member for children and young people, said the tables showed the improvements being made.

She said: “The school performance tables confirm that significant improvements have been made to overall county standards at GCSE level and I want to congratulate all our secondary school students.”

Hameldon Community College, Burnley, Blakewater College, Blackburn, Unity College, Burnley, Shuttleworth College, Burnley and Darwen Vale High School, Darwen, were the bottom 200 state schools with the worst record for persistent absence.

Simon Jones, NUT secretary for Blackburn with Darwen, said the union treated the tables with contempt.

He said: “They are based on a poor series of tests and education should not treated in the same way as football team leagues. School should encouraged to work together not compete.”