NOVA Hreod Academy celebrated record success this week after Department for Education provisional league tables confirmed twice as many pupils achieved the top GCSE grades this summer.

Around 59 per cent of teens at the Akers Way school achieved five A* to C grades this summer compared to just 31 per cent last year according to data, released early to give parents the most up-to-date information while applying for places for September 2016 this month.

While up to nine per cent fewer pupils at eight of the 13 secondary schools across the town achieved the nationally accepted standard in their exams, Nova Hreod and Swindon Academy, both run by education charity United Learning, bucked the town-wide trend with impressive 28 per cent and 13 per cent more pupils reaching the benchmark respectively.

“We are absolutely delighted with our standing in these tables which demonstrates the significant progress Nova Hreod continues to make," said Nova Hreod Academy principal Darren Barton, who welcomed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools Lord Nash to the school on Thursday to celebrate their achievements.

"To have doubled the number of students gaining five good GCSE grades in just one year is testament to the hard work and commitment of our staff and students. Across the school community, we all look forward to continuing and accelerating the progress which has been made.”

Ruth Robinson, principal of Swindon Academy, where 53 per cent of pupils made the grade compared to 40 per cent last year, said: “We are delighted with our increase in results particularly as, across the country, there has been a fall. This is down to the rigour and commitment of all our staff and students and their combined hard work which is delivering improvement and success across the Academy.”

But many schools, including Dorcan Academy, Commonweal, and Royal Wootton Bassett Academy saw a dramatic decrease in their success rate compared to 2014, although the majority of schools - nine out of 13 - did exceed the national average of 52.8 per cent of pupils achieving the benchmark, which is down from 53.4 per cent last year..

St Joseph's Catholic College saw the greatest drop in students' achievements, reducing from 67 per cent in 2014 to 58 per cent in the latest figures, but principal Paul Hughes, said changes to examinations made results incomparable.

“Overall, results were likely to look different this year because of the difference in entry patterns," he said.

"The exams regulator Ofqual has admitted that a return to end-of-course exams and alterations to key exams have led to ‘more variability’ than usual at school level. This year's changes included pupils being tested on their course knowledge at the end of their two-year GCSE courses, and significant changes to grade boundaries in key subjects.”

Lydiard Park Academy topped this autumn's tables with 67 per cent of youngsters achieving the top grades, while Churchfields Academy placed bottom with only 37 per cent of youngsters achieving the national standard.

Principal Sharon Kirwan said the figures did not accurately reflect Churchfields' students' exceptional progress across the curriculum, and was looking forward to greater emphasis on the new progress measure, to be published next year.

"We are also concerned that the performance measures which are being published are all about exam grades and make no reference to the progress made by pupils," she said.

"Parents need a rounded picture when they choose a secondary school. Presenting them with only half of the picture is misleading."

Clive Zimmerman, Lydiard Park Academy principal, said: "I'm delighted that the hard work and dedication of teachers, governors, parents and pupils is reflected in our position in these performance tables.

"Everyone connected with Lydiard Park Academy will know that this has been many years in the making and that west Swindon has a school that it can be really proud of."