SCHOOLS in Bolton were celebrating today after GCSE figures showed pupils are performing better than ever.

New government figures show the borough’s secondary schools are the most improved in Greater Manchester.

And Bolton has moved 12 places up the national rankings. It is now placed at 99 out of 150 local authorities.

The results have been welcomed by headteachers and education chiefs.

Margaret Asquith, Bolton Council’s director of children’s services, said: “Our results show Bolton’s schools continue to go from strength to strength.

“Once again we have improved on last year’s results in every aspect and are now one of the best performing authorities in Greater Manchester.”

The figures, released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, show 44.9 per cent of pupils achieved the benchmark five or more A* to C grades, including maths and English, in last summer’s GCSEs.

The national average was 47.6 per cent.

The pass rate represents an increase of almost five per cent from 2007, when 40 per cent of schools in the borough met the standard, compared to 46 per cent nationally.

Figures for the number of pupils gaining five A*-C grades, excluding maths and English, rose from 54.6 per cent to 66.9 per cent — the national average was 64.8 per cent, compared to 60 per cent in 2007.

Canon Slade School in Bradshaw maintained its position as Bolton’s top state school, with 83 per cent of pupils achieving five A*-C grades, including maths and English, up one per cent from 2007.

Headteacher Philip Williamson said: “The results are a credit to the diligence and determination of our students and bear testimony to our staff’s commitment, skills and work.

“This cohort achieved the best results in the school’s history. Not only was the year group successful in their academic endeavours, they are also immensely caring, fun-loving and talented.”

Bottom of the Bolton table, and among the worst 200 state schools nationally, is Ladybridge High School, for the second consecutive year.

Only 21 per cent of pupils met the required standard. However, this is a rise from last year’s 17 per cent.

Headteacher Hilary D’Arcy said: “The English and maths measure combined is only one indicator of a school’s performance. Strategies for accelerating this measure are firmly in place.

“We are especially delighted that against every other measure Ladybridge has demonstrated a significant improvement.”

Bolton School’s girls division came top of the table, with all pupils achieving five or more grades A* to C, including maths and English.

Headteacher Gill Richards said: “We were delighted with this year’s GCSE results, with 75 per cent of entries being graded A* or A and 47 girls — well over a third of the cohort — got at least 10 A* and A grades.”

Bolton School’s boys division is at the bottom of the tables because pupils sit the international GCSE (IGCSE) for maths and English, which the Government does not recognise.

Cllr Ebrahim Adia, Bolton Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “Many of our schools are celebrating their best ever results and we are really proud of all our pupils, staff and parents.

“That is not to say that we will be resting on our laurels, as we are determined that we should enjoy similar improvements next year.”

Schools in Bury gained 55.5 per cent A* to C, pupils in Wigan achieved 45.8 per cent, while Salford youngsters achieved 40.3 per cent.