County schools continue to improve in their GCSE results - but Northamptonshire pupils still achieve lower than the national average.
Figures released today show that 79.7 per cent of pupils attained five A* to C grades in their summer exams, a rise of more than three per cent on last year.
It means the county is no longer bottom of the pile in the East Midlands as Rutland, Nottingham, and Leicester all recorded a lower percentage of pupils who gained five passes.
But Northamptonshire is still below the national average at 82.7 per cent for state funded schools and the regional average of 80.3 per cent.
Going back to 2006, only 56 per cent of Northamptonshire pupils gained five GCSEs.
The percentage of pupils who achieved five A* to C grades including English and Maths was at 55.7 per cent, which is below the national average of 58.4 per cent.
The county’s 2011-12 figure is a slight increase from 55.3 per cent in 2011.
But nationally, this figure has dropped for the first time.
Statisticians said the half per cent drop was down to fewer English entries from private schools, but there are also likely to be concerns that issues with this year’s GCSE English grading may have played a part.
Verity O’Keefe, employment and skills adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “Today’s drop in the number of young people achieving five good GCSE passes, including English and maths, shows that we are still some way off the mark the economy needs to grow the pipeline of people with good basic skills.
“Many employers use similar benchmarks when recruiting young people, with three-quarters of manufacturers prioritising attainment in maths, English and the sciences when recruiting apprentices.
“However, a lack of attainment in key subjects is still restricting firms’ ability to fill vacancies and Government must now set a target of 65 per cent of students achieving five good passes which includes English and maths.”