Fall in pass rate for five GCSEs
Fewer teenagers scored at least five Cs including English and maths in their GCSEs this year, official figures show.
In total, 58.6% of pupils in England reached the threshold, down 0.8% on last year, according to statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE).
Statisticians suggested that the fall was down to a dramatic fall in the proportion of private school pupils sitting GCSE English.
Less than two thirds (63.5%) took the qualification this summer, compared with 92% in 2012. Many students at fee-paying schools are taking other English exams that are not included in the Government's measures, it was suggested.
In state schools alone, there was a rise, with 60.2% gaining five or more A*-C grades, including the basics, up 1.4% on last year, the figures show.
The latest statistics also show a rise in the number of children taking the government's English Baccalaureate.
The EBacc is a measure used in league tables that is awarded to pupils who achieve at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, history or geography and a foreign language.
More than a third (35.4%) of state school pupils entered for the EBacc this year - up from just under a quarter (23.1%) last year.
The DfE said that this equates to an extra 72,000 children taking the EBacc this year.
But there was a fall in the proportion of pupils who were entered for the EBacc who went on to achieve it, the figures show.
Overall, 64% of all those entered for the required subjects achieved the measure compared with 70% in 2012.
There were rises in the numbers of pupils taking GCSEs in more than one science, languages, history and geography, the data shows.
Pupils who took their GCSEs this summer were the first year group to do so after the Government announced it was introducing the Ebacc.
The figures also show differences remain between the genders, with girls outperforming boys.
In the Ebacc, the gender gap widened, with 39% of girls entering all the required subjects, compared with 30.4% of boys - a 8.6 percentage point gap. Last year the gap was 5.1 percentage points.
Around 64.1% of girls scored at least five C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, compared with 53.3% of boys.
Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said: "We have reversed the long-term decline of the key academic subjects that give children the best chance to get on in life.
"For years children were steered away from subjects like languages and history but the EBacc is fixing that.
"Pupils who study these subjects have more options, especially if they come from poorer backgrounds."
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