FOURTEEN-year-olds are celebrating their best-ever results after scores rose in maths and science.
In maths, 70 per cent of pupils gained the expected level 5; in English and science 68 per cent of pupils reached the grade. Last year 67 per cent of pupils gained level 5 in all three subjects.
At the higher level 6, maths results rose to 49 per cent from 45 per cent last year. Science was up three percentage points to 40 per cent and English rose to 34 per cent from 33 per cent in 2002.
School standards minister David Miliband said: "Progress at key stage 3 is a key test of secondary school reform. This year's results show that the key stage 3 strategy is having a significant impact.
"I think it is a tribute not just to the strategy but to the teachers and pupils in secondary schools."
Boys narrowed the gender gap in English at levels 5 and 6, but more than a third still did not reach the required standard.
Girls have drawn ahead in maths where 72 per cent now reach level 5, compared to 69 per cent of boys. Forty nine per cent of both boys and girls reach level 6.
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said:
"The results are a reflection of the amount of work that schools have put into raising achievement for 11 to 14-year-olds.
"If a secondary school has had difficulty recruiting staff, then it is at key stage 3 where there is a disproportionate number of unqualified teachers or teachers teaching outside their subject. Schools were worried about that and have worked to raise key stage 3 results."