Archbishop Lanfranc School’s attempt to become the heartbeat of the local community has received a boost, after it was named among the top 20 most improved schools in London in the latest set of GCSE figures.

The number of pupils gaining five or more A* to C grades including English and Maths(A*CEM) has jumped from 32 per cent in 2008 to 44 per cent this year, moving the school well away from the Government’s ‘failing school’ mark of 30 per cent.

Results averaged across the borough compared favourably with high-flying London, with the capital proving itself the top performer among English regions.

A total of 54 per cent of pupils gained five or more A*CEMs, compared to 29.9 per cent in 1997 when the region had among the worst results in the country.

Croydon schools averaged 51.9 per cent of pupils gaining five or more A*CEMs, while pupils gaining at least five A* to C grades in any subjects hit 74.1 per cent compared to the capital’s average of 71.2.

Archbishop Lanfranc headteacher David Clark said his school’s improvement was due to better targeting of resources, including a focus on borderline pupils in English and Maths.

He said: “These results are of great significance for the school as it attempts to secure its place as the heartbeat of its local community. “They have given renewed confidence to all involved with the school that, with on-going hard work and commitment, their ever higher aspirations can be achieved.”

Every pupil at Croydon High School managed to gain five or more A*CEMs, as did 92 per cent at Al-Khair School and 91 per cent at Coloma Convent Girls’ School.

Although only a third of pupils gained five or more A*CEMs at Haling Manor School, it scored highly on the improvement pupils make between entering and leaving the school.

Schools minister Vernon Coaker said another year of record GCSE results was thanks to record investment in teachers and schools, coupled with the hard work of pupils.

He said: “No doubt detractors will once again try to pick holes in these achievements – trying to devalue the hard work of pupils, teachers and schools – but this is the time to acknowledge their efforts and congratulate them on their excellent results.”