CHURCHFIELDS Academy is included in a list of 329 state schools falling below the Government's floor standards for secondary schools, according to analysis of the Department for Education's methodology for calculating under-performing schools.

Formerly Churchfields School, it officially became an academy on September 1, 2011, and pupils celebrated record GCSE examination results the following August. 

Acting principal Sandra Muir said: “Churchfields Academy was disappointed with some of the examination results in August but it is important to remember that there was great success for many individual students at Churchfields in 2015.

“Churchfields welcomes a move towards the new Progress 8 measure which is a more accurate way of measuring the progress a child makes from their starting point.

“Using this measure for 2015, Churchfields would have been above the Government floor standard measure.

“Churchfields Academy has already taken steps to drive improvements and has been working closely with the local authority and Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, an outstanding school, to ensure that there is a clear programme to ensure standards rise.

“Our focus is firmly on the progress that our students make and ensuring that they are challenged with our high expectations for them and their future.”

The DfE does not publish a list of schools it considers below its benchmarks but the figures show that more than a quarter of a million children are not getting what is considered to be a decent education, including pupils at three of the Government's flagship free schools.

Schools failing to reach the benchmark did not ensure that enough pupils gained five good GCSE grades and made sufficient progress in English and maths.

An analysis of the data, by the Press Association, also reveals that a child's chances of attending a decent school depend heavily on where they live, with 10 or more under-performing secondaries in some areas, and none in others.

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said the results, based on last summer's GCSE grades, show how far the nation has come in raising standards, but added that the Government will tackle the "pockets of persistent under-performance".

Overall, 329 state secondary schools in England did not meet the minimum benchmarks. Of these, 312 failed to ensure that at least 40% of their pupils gained at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, and that students make good enough progress in these two core subjects.

The other 17 schools were among 327 schools that opted in to a new "Progress 8" performance measure - which looks at the progress of pupils across eight subjects - and fell below a certain threshold for this target. From next year, all schoolswill be measured against "Progress 8".

Schools that are considered under-performing face intervention, such as being turned into an academy or given a new sponsor to try to raise standards.

The Department for Education (DfE) does not publish a list of schools falling below its floor targets but according to the Press Association's analysis, using the DfE's methodology for calculating under-performing schools, three of those falling below the benchmark were free schools - a key element of Conservative education reforms.

These are: Robert Owen Academy in Hereford, Saxmundham Free School in Suffolk and St Michael's Catholic Secondary School in Camborne, Cornwall.

A total of 188 under-performing schools are academies, the analysis shows, while 50 are council-run, 45 are foundation schools, 14 are voluntary-aided and the others include university technical colleges, studio schools and further education colleges catering to 14 to 16-year-olds.

A DfE spokesman said free schools are a key part of the Government's drive for educational excellence.

"The number of free schools with exam results is still too small to allow robust conclusions to be drawn," he insisted. "But under-performance at any school is unacceptable, and one of the strengths of the free schools programme is that when we spot failure we can act quickly."

In total, 250,955 youngsters are being taught in under-performing state secondaries - around 7.3% of the secondary school population, the data reveals. This is down from last year, when the figure was 274,351.

Blackpool had the highest proportion of pupils at an under-performing school, with 48.6% of youngsters not getting a decent education. This was followed by Knowsley, at 47.7%, and Nottingham where 35.7%.

The top school for GCSE results this year was The Blue Coat School, an academy in Liverpool, where all 124 students gained at least five C grades, including English and maths, and the average points score per pupil was 696.1.

The figures also show a rise in the numbers of youngsters taking the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of English, maths, science, a language and either history or geography, the DfE said, with nearly 88,000 more teenagers taking these academic subjects compared with 2010.

Of those schools which entered all their pupils for the EBacc one reported a 100% pass rate: the Henrietta Barnett School, an academy in Hampstead, north London, according to the analysis of the figures.

Mr Gibb said: "The results show how far we have come in raising standards, but they also highlight where some pupils are still at risk of falling behind.

"We refuse to accept second best for any young person and we must now focus on extending opportunity for all. This Government is giving all young people, irrespective of their background, a fair shot in life and we must not let up the pace of reform now.

"Through our focus on delivering educational excellence everywhere and the dedication of our schools, we will tackle those pockets of persistent under-performance so every child fulfils their potential."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Union of Head Teachers, said: "There has been so much change that the national statistics generated by the Government are increasingly dubious.

"Comparing one year with another, or one group of schools with another, is precarious at best when the very basis of measurement is different each time.

"The Government must be careful what conclusions it draws. We desperately need stable measures of a stable examination system."

Meanwhil more secondary school students in the Wiltshire Council area - which includes Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade and Purton - are achieving five or more good grades at GCSE with 92 percent taught in schools which are good or outstanding, according to latest government figures.

Performance tables released today by the Department for Education, show 60.5 percent of students in Wiltshire have achieved the benchmark of five or more good GCSEs (A*-C) including English and maths, higher than students nationally and an improvement of nearly four percent on last year’s figure of 56.8 percent.

Today Wiltshire Council said it was pleased that high proportions of Wiltshire students continue to make the expected progress in their knowledge and understanding of the key subjects of English and maths subjects with 71.7% and 72.6% respectively achieving this benchmark.

Nearly a quarter of students (24.8%) also achieved the English Baccalaureate with good GCSEs in academic subjects including English, maths, sciences, language, and geography or history.

Sixth form students have also maintained high levels of achievements in A-level exams.  Nearly all students in Wiltshire taking A-levels achieved at least one A*- E A-level grade (99.6%), with 93.7 percent and 81.1 percent leaving with two or three A* - E A-level grades respectively.

In A-levels, 15.9% of students gained AAB or higher grades in at least two ‘facilitating subjects.’ These include maths, English, sciences and languages which help students compete for top university places.

The 2015 figures reflect Ofsted’s recent annual report which noted 92 percent of Wiltshire secondary school students, which equates to nearly 27,000 students, are in good or outstanding secondary schools.

Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services at Wiltshire Council, said: “I’d like to congratulate our pupils for these excellent results and the schools for providing a thriving academic environment where our young people can excel – an important feature recognised by Ofsted.”

Carolyn Godfrey, corporate director at Wiltshire Council, said: “We are committed to helping our young people reach their potential and I’m delighted we can once again celebrate good results.

"We will always seek further improvement and it is this continual drive to help our students achieve their very best which has been recognised nationally.”