This week's results showed new records in the proportions of pupils getting top grades. The number of entries also hit a new high. However, the proportion of U grades was at its highest level in more than 10 years, fuelling fears of a widening gap between best and worst performers.
Both the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association said league tables and Government targets led schools to concentrate efforts on students likely to get a C grade or better.
Boys partially closed the gap with girls and numbers opting to study RE rose. But the numbers choosing French and German continued to decline.
Left to right: David Main, Nina Embleton, David Lee, Jemma Sheck.
News, 6-7, Leader, 12. Photograph by BEN CAWTHRA