TODAY'S results reveal that some of the county's 2007 school leavers fell short of standards reached by pupils who took GCSEs in 2006.

But some real school success stories have emerged from the mixed bag of results.

Five schools in the area managed to buck the overall trend of a dip in performance by bettering 2006's GCSE results.

All Saints C of E School in Weymouth, Beaminster School, Royal Manor Arts College on Portland, The Wey Valley School in Weymouth and The Purbeck School are all celebrating improved grades proving they're on the up.

Portland pupils helped Royal Manor Arts College shoot up the league table by improving 14 per cent on 2006's results.

That year, 43 per cent of pupils walked away with five or more A* to C grades - compared to 57 per cent in 2007.

Headteacher Paul Green said the secret to the year group's success was working - and playing - together.

He added: "They were a particularly good year group and what was especially good about them was that they worked as a team.

"I remember looking out the window at lunchtime one day and seeing half of them, boys and girls, all playing football together. They were very cohesive."

Beaminster pupils saw a rise of nine per cent among the number of pupils achieving five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C.

In 2007, 67 per cent of pupils achieved that benchmark standard, compared to 57 per cent of pupils in 2006.

Headteacher Mike Best said: "This year there was a real focus on supporting individuals.

"There's no doubt that setting targets can improve performance, but we are really hostages to fortune with whatever the cohort is like."

At All Saints, pupils raised the bar by six per cent to ensure 72 per cent of the cohort were celebrating five or more good GCSEs - placing them 11th in Dorset.

This compares to 2006's result when 66 per cent of pupils reached the same level.

Headteacher Tim Balmforth puts the results down to sheer hard graft.

He said: "We're a good school and our improvement is down to the hard work of pupils, their parents and the staff in the school.

"They were a wonderful group of pupils who had an extremely good work ethic."

The top ranking non fee-paying school in Dorset remains The Thomas Hardye School in Dorchester, with 76 per cent of pupils gaining five or more good GCSEs.

However, the school's overall performance was four per cent down on 2006.

Schools minister Jim Knight said the results were very positive and showed there were now fewer poorly performing schools.

He added: "I share parents' impatience for improvement not just in low achieving schools but in all schools. The vast majority are improving and those at the lowest level are receiving intensive support."