HALF of Inverclyde's secondary schools have been ranked among the best performing in Scotland, according to a new study.

An alternative Scottish exams league table published by The Herald on Sunday puts Port Glasgow High top of the class locally in sixth place, with neighbours St Stephen's and Inverclyde Academy in Greenock in fifteenth and twenty-fourth, respectively.

The study explored pass rates of pupils at secondaries in areas of high deprivation. Some experts argue it is a fairer indication of success than traditional methods, which pits figures from schools in more affluent areas against those in more disadvantaged parts of the country.

At Port High, 28 per cent of students achieved five or more Highers last year even though nearly two-thirds of the roll are classed as being from deprived backgrounds, according to the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD).

Head teacher Stuart Clark welcomed the findings, adding that the school is 'punching above our weight on exam results'.

Next door at St Stephen's, 23 per cent of youngsters gained a minimum of five Highers against a SIMD rate of 67, while almost a fifth of Inverclyde Academy pupils gained reached the exams benchmark even though half are recorded as being from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The results were published on the back of the annual league table from The Times, which does not take into account poverty levels.

In that study, Clydeview Academy in Gourock was the district's best-performing secondary at number 40 on the list.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: "Far from 'performing poorly' (The Times, March 20), Education Scotland's opinion is that, 'Inverclyde secondary schools are attaining better for young people with similar characteristics than those being educated in other areas of Scotland'."

Local education officials welcomed the alternative figures but argue that rankings never fully reflect the good work in classrooms.

A council spokesman said: "While it's gratifying that half of Inverclyde's high schools feature in The Herald's top 40, league tables never give a true picture of what is actually going on in a school or a local authority.

"Compared to other local authorities we have a relatively high proportion of pupils staying on to S6 and this affects how Inverclyde's performance appears.

"In October 2018, an Education Scotland report found, 'the evidence and evaluation to date indicates that Inverclyde Council is making very good progress in improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty related attainment gap'."

According to The Times, Clydeview Academy was Inverclyde's best-performing secondary at number 40 in the country with over half of pupils gaining at least five Highers.

St Columba's in Gourock was 84th with 43 per cent followed by Notre Dame at 110th with 39 per cent, Port High at 223rd, St Stephen's at 278th, and Inverclyde Academy in the bottom 30 in 311th place with 19 per cent.