The proportion of pupils entering and achieving the EBacc has fallen this year, government data shows.
In 2017, 38.1 per cent of pupils in state-funded schools entered the five EBacc subjects and 23.5 per cent achieved a “standard pass”.
Last year, 39.7 per cent entered and 24.5 per cent passed.
The government considers a standard pass to be a C or above under the old alphabetical grading system, or a 4 or above under the reformed numeric grades.
It brings to an end a five-year trend of increases in EBacc entry rates, and is likely to raise questions about the government’s ambitious targets.
Ministers want to see 75 per cent of pupils taking the EBacc by 2022, rising to 90 per cent by 2025.
There has been a rise in the proportion of pupils entering at least four of the five EBacc subjects – maths, English, sciences, history or geography and a modern foreign languages.
The proportion of pupils taking at least four of the EBacc subjects has increased from 37.5 per cent in 2016 to 43.7 per cent this year, a rise of 6.2 percentage points.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister, has hailed this year’s GCSE and A level results as “excellent”, and says “increasing numbers of pupils” are taking core academic subjects.
“Since 2010, the proportion of pupils taking GCSE science has risen from 63 per cent to 91 per cent, and 21 per cent more students are studying maths at A level – which remains the most popular A level.
“The fruits of the government’s reforms are best seen in the performance of free schools and academies, which have achieved some outstanding progress 8 scores.
“They account for eight of the top 10 performing schools in the country. Often serving areas of significant disadvantage, these schools show that a rigorous curriculum and a strong behaviour ethos is crucial to driving up academic standards in all parts of the country.”
The average attainment 8 score among state-funded schools has also decreased, from 49.9 in 2016 to 46 this year. But this is understood to be mostly due to a technical change in the way the score is calculated.
More to follow.