Half of all pupils sitting the reformed GCSEs achieved a grade 5 – a “strong pass” – or above, UK results show.
Meanwhile, 68 per cent of pupils passed at a grade 4 or above, a result that still counts as a “standard pass”
Nationally there is an 18.3 percentage point gap between the proportion of pupils who got a “strong pass” at grade 4 and those who got a “standard pass” at grade 5.
The pass rates at both grades will be separately reported in school performance tables, but the strong pass rate will be the new headline measure by which schools are judged.
Justine Greening introduced the distinction between strong and standard passes in March, the first year of the reforms, which amended the grading systems for the English language, literature and maths GCSEs to a numbered grading system (9-1) from the more familiar letters (A*-G). Other major subjects will follow next year.
In English literature, 55 per cent of pupils received a grade 5 or above and 72 per cent got a grade 4 or above.
The grade 4 pass rate is slightly down on 2016 results, when 75 per cent of pupils passed at a grade C in England.
In maths, 48 per cent of pupils got a grade 5 or above; 69 per cent received a grade 4 or above, a difference of over 20 per cent.
Nevertheless, this represents a rise on last year, when 62 per cent of pupils received a grade C or above.
The strong pass figure was lowest in English language of the three subjects. Forty-eight per cent of pupils got a grade 5 or above, and 65 per cent got a grade 4 or above.
This grade 4 result still represents a rise on last year, when 60 per cent of pupils achieved a grade C or above.
Sharon Hague, the senior vice-president of exam board Pearson, pointed out that this year’s cohort had lower prior attainment, and claimed there was a “wider range of ability” than in 2016, either of which may have contributed to some of the grade dips.