ELEVEN of the region’s top-performing schools have received letters of congratulation from a Government minister.

David Laws, a Liberal Democrat, heaped praise on the schools in the North-East and North Yorkshire for their achievement in one of three areas.

Four schools were praised for attainment - the percentage of students who achieved five or more A* to C GCSEs including English and maths:

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* Carmel College, Darlington.

* John Fisher Catholic High school, Harrogate.

* St Francis Xavier School, Richmond.

* St Aidan’s Church of England High School, Harrogate.

Two schools received letters for improvement – the increase between 2010-11 and 2012-13 in the percentage of pupils achieving the GCSE measure:

* Biddick School Sports College, Sunderland.

* Rossett School, Harrogate.

And five schools were praised for the progress made by poorer pupils – on the GCSE measure, since they moved up from primary school:

* Seaham School of Technology, County Durham.

* Durham Gilesgate Sports College and Sixth Form Centre, Durham City.

* Bishop Barrington School, Bishop Auckland.

* Staindrop School, County Durham.

* Norton College, Malton.

Mr Laws said: “These schools are the best in the country and have earned every bit of praise.

“The results are a testament to the hard work of teachers, pupils and governors and I hope others will learn from their example.”

In particular, the minister pointed to the schools achieving results with poorer children, which he linked to extra cash handed out through the ‘pupil premium’.

He said: “Raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils is not a challenge that will be fixed overnight, but these schools have shown there is no limit to every child’s potential.”