Capital facts

* There are 1,850 state primary schools in London and 400 secondaries educating around a million pupils

* Some 44 per cent of inner-London secondary pupils are entitled to free meals. The national average is 17 per cent

* 29 per cent of London state-school pupils speak English as a second language, rising to 42 per cent in inner London. The national average is 8 per cent

* Almost 60 per cent of inner-London pupils come from an ethnic minority, compared to a London average of 41 per cent and national average of 12 per cent

* More than 10 per cent of London pupils attend independent schools compared with around 7 per cent in England. In inner London, this rises to more than 13 per cent

* In London secondaries, 3 per cent of teaching posts are vacant, three times the figure for the rest of England

* Truancy in inner London is double the national average. An average of 2.2 per cent of half days are missed by inner-London pupils, compared to 1.1 per cent elsewhere

* Despite the challenges, the performance of London's children at GCSE level has improved faster than the national average over the past five years. The percentage of 15-year-olds gaining five or more top GCSEs has risen from 40.4 per cent in 19967 to 46.1 per cent in 200002. This represents an improvement of 5.7 percentage points, compared to 4.9 points nationally.

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