A FORMER failing school has gone from being one of the worst-performing in the country to one of the most improved.

Darlington School of Mathematics and Science (DSMS), formerly Branksome School, has seen a marked upturn in fortunes since a change of management in 2010.

After securing the best GCSE results in its history last summer, DSMS has now become the best-performing school in Darlington for a Government formula called ‘added value’, which measures students’ performance in their SATS exams, predicting likely GCSE results and comparing this with the final grades.

An added value score of more than 1,000 shows that students are achieving above their expected levels – DSMS scored 1,032 points.

Last year’s GCSE results saw 55 per cent of students achieve the benchmark of at least five A* to C grades.

Since the 2010 overhaul, when the school became an academy, more than £2m has been spent on updating its facilities.

A new tutoring system was introduced, allowing students to mix outside their age group.

More DSMS students than ever are continuing their education after leaving school.

Headteacher Calvin Kipling said: “There used to be a view that certain colleges were beyond our students but not anymore.

“I was brought up on a council estate and my father was a steelworker who lost his job in the 1980s.

“But I still managed to go to college and university and can vouch for the effectiveness of education in changing lives.

“It is my personal mission to make sure all children have the opportunity I had as a child.

“To do this you have to have committed staff who never give up and drive this forward – and that is what we have here.”

Last week, eight schools in the region were named as being among the most improved state ssecondaries based on GCSE and A-Level results.

Hummersknott Academy is celebrating a jump in its own league table position, following a substantial increase in the number of students scoring more than five A* to C grades to GCSE.

Last year, 79 per cent of Hummersknott students achieved that bench mark, above the national average of 59 per cent and an increase on the school’s 2011 performance (62 per cent).

Principal Pat Howarth said: “We’re delighted with these figures, which demonstrate that Hummersknott is going from strength to strength.

“These results are testament to the hard work and dedication of our students and staff, and bode well for our future achievements.”