270 schools may fail to meet GCSE targets

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Official tables are expected to show that 250,000 children are being taught in schools Gordon Brown has threatened with closure.

A total of 270 schools face being shut down or taken over if their GCSE results fail to improve by next year.

The secondary schools - at which more than 70 per cent of pupils leave at 16 without a basic set of GCSE qualifications - teach just over 250,000 children.

Ministers admitted that around one in 12 secondaries still falls short of the Government's GCSE achievement benchmark.

But Schools Minister Vernon Coaker insisted that many of those 270 are firmly on the right trajectory.

Under a National Challenge programme unveiled by Mr Brown, the schools face closure unless they reach a floor target for minimum expected performance by 2011.

They must ensure at least 30 per cent of pupils pass five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C including English and maths - the Government's benchmark for secondary school achievement.

Next week's GCSE results, broken down school by school as well as nationwide, will also show how half of teenagers finish 11 years of compulsory schooling without achieving the basic five C-grade GCSEs including English and maths.

More than 300,000 pupils who went through an entire education under Labour failed to meet the Government's secondary school benchmark last year.

Despite a rise on 2008, only around 50 per cent of pupils achieved the desired five A* to C-grade GCSEs including in English and maths last year.

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