THE transformation of an underachieving school to one with enviable pass rates in less than a decade has paid off after it landed in a national top 50 ranking.

Sedgefield Community College is one of three schools in the North-East to make it onto the Sunday Times’ prestigious list of Top 50 UK State Secondary Schools, published earlier this week.

Ranked at number 48, it is joined by Darlington’s Hummersknott Academy which came in at 32 while Whitburn Church of England Academy, Sunderland, was rated at 16.

David Davies, headteacher at Sedgefield Community College, said: “It’s the first time we’ve appeared in the list and it’s very rare a North-East school appears.

“I don’t get really hung up on lists. We do what we do every day here.

“It’s nice to be in there and it gives parents confidence to see we are doing well here as a school.

“Students never fail to make me proud.

“The examination performance is fantastic and it’s not just one year group.

“Possibly one of the biggest things I’m proud of is how mature they are and how caring they are.”

Although the school saw 80 per cent of its GCSE students bag grades between A* and C in 2016, it has not always been a high achiever.

Mr Davies joined in 2009 when it was viewed by the local authority as a “concern” and would most likely have been rated by Ofsted, according to the headteacher, as “inadequate”.

“In many instances achievement was way below, behaviour was poor and attitude to education and other students was poor in the school,” he added. “I would be surprised if it wasn’t rated at the time as (what would now be rated by Ofsted as) inadequate.

“Within six months we were upgraded as Good.”

Mr Davies said Sedgefield Community College, which has almost 950 pupils, had been County Durham’s “highest attaining schools” for the last three years.

Speaking about its success, he added: “I go around schools not to look at them critically but to look at what they are doing very well, to see what we can learn from them.

“It’s not just about the quality of teaching and leadership (in Sedgefield), which is extremely high. It’s about the pastoral care, relationship we build with students and culture in the school.

“We instil in students the desire to achieve as opposed to being pushed to achieve.

“Students want to do well here.”

The Northern Echo was last night unable to contact Hummersknott Academy for a comment as it reopened today.

Commenting on its GCSE results in 2016 on its website, the school states: “Student performance for the summer exams was again strong and above national averages.

“This was due to the attitude of the students, the support of the parents and expertise of the staff.”