Girls have increased their lead on boys for top grades in GCSEs, in another record-breaking year for passes which saw results improve for the 23rd year in a row.
More exam entries were given the top A and A* grades and just under 70 per cent were awarded between an A* and a C grade.
About 26 per cent of exams taken by girls were given the top grades, while just under 20 per cent of those taken by boys were at the same level.
The performance gap between boys and girls is the widest ever at the top grades of A* and A.
Last year there was a difference of 5.7 percentage points and this year it is 6.7.
Andrew Hall, director general of AQA exam boards, said examiners were ‘scratching their heads’ over the acceleration in the trend seen over the last two decades - especially as the gap is narrowing at A-level.
“There will be something there about boys and girls maturing at different rates,” he added.
The Government has brought in a new measure to try to reverse the decline in what it sees as core academic subjects.
The new measure - called the English Baccalaureate - will show that a student has achieved a good GCSE pass, A* to C, in five key subjects including maths, English, a language, two sciences and either geography or history.
Schools in Sheffield so far seem to be paying little attention to the standard, which is firmly backed by Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Tapton School head David Bowes said around 40 per cent of his students were gaining the Baccalaureate.
“That is reasonably good as many of our youngsters are studying a modern foreign language, as well as geography and history,” he said.