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we say ...

We are delighted that the Conservatives' education spokesman has leapt to the defence of secondary schools on the Government's National Challenge hit list.

It is indeed damaging and misleading to brand a school a failure simply because fewer than 30 per cent of its pupils get five A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.

But Conservative politicians have also fallen into that trap. Earlier this year one Tory MP - who has repeatedly used the phrase "failing schools" - said it was easy to identify "the areas of greatest failure" in education.

"There are more than 630 schools across England which can't even generate five decent GCSE passes for a third of their students," he said. "It's appalling that you can educate children for 11 years, and then have schools where more than two-thirds of children cannot secure a basic portfolio of qualifications."

The appalled MP was, of course, Michael Gove.

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