HEREFORDSHIRE schools are top of the class in national tests for 14 year olds, national figures have revealed.

A total of 79% of youngsters sitting the Key Stage 3 tests in maths in 2004 achieved level five or above - placing the authority in top spot in the West Midlands and joint 13th best in the country.

In English, 76% of pupils attained grade 5 or above, which was joint best in the region and 24th in the country.

In science, 72% of youngsters gained pass marks, equal second best in the West Midlands and 23rd in England and Wales.

In maths, the results in Herefordshire were 6% above the national average and 5% in English and science.

Key Stage 3 is the last test youngsters sit before GCSE exams.

They measure how individual schools and local authorities are performing against national standards and targets set in literacy, numeracy and the sciences.

Councillor Don Rule, Cabinet Member for Education, said: "Herefordshire Council places great importance on education and it's rewarding not only for this authority to achieve such high standards but is also a fitting tribute to the youngsters, their teachers and their parents for all the hard work and effort they have put in.

"We are delighted that Herefordshire has once again performed so well in the national tables for Key Stage 3. Education will remain a top priority in Herefordshire."