St Thomas More is best improved school in Beds

Pupils celebrate after results of latest performance figures

St Thomas More Catholic Upper School has come top of the class in Beds, after figures were released on performances by schools across the county.

The Tyne Crescent school showed the highest level of improvement by pupils between the ages of 11 and 16 of any state school in the county.

Between key stages 2 and 4, St Thomas More was given a rating of 1031.3 – 35 points above the next-highest performer, by the government's Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).

Headteacher Dr Alan Lee said: "I have been here for three years and there has been a total shake-up in that time.

"We have tried to pull together and create a culture of achievement. We want to unlock the potential of every child, and tell them that they can achieve anything they set their minds on.

"When I came here, 43 per cent of pupils gained five GCSEs at grades A* to C, and I wanted that to reach 60 per cent of pupils within five years.

"But it has already reached 66 per cent of pupils, and we hope to make 70 per cent next year."

In a further cause for celebration, the school signed a deal with Oxford University last week to help train pupils in skills such as leadership and debating.

St Thomas More is a specialist humanities and management college, and Dr Lee said the courses would be a boon for pupils.

He said: "There will be a number of leadership days we are developing with the university, covering topics like debates, presentation, and leading small groups.

"We have a number of pupils focusing on applying to go to Oxbridge at the moment, and we want to support them in what they want to do."

Councillor Rita Drinkwater, portfolio holder for education at County Hall, said the results at St Thomas More were one of the highlights of the county's education performance.

She said: "The Thomas More results were fantastic, and it was one of the best schools in England and Wales when you take into account the improvements the children have shown over their time at the school. It is absolutely first class.

"I have really been pleased with the improvements at schools across the county, particularly in the last two years when Bedfordshire has gone above the national average for the first time when it comes to the percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at grades A-C including maths and English.

"That is down to teachers, headteachers, staff at the council, and governors at schools across Bedfordshire."