MORE Dudley borough children scored five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C than ever before, according to national performance tables published yesterday (Thursday January 24).

A total of 83.2 per cent of pupils across Dudley achieved the top grades compared to 81 per cent last year.

However, the figures show the number of teens leaving school with top grades in subjects including English and maths fell by nearly two per cent.

In 2011 - 58.5 per cent of students gained five GCSES (including English and maths) but statistics show the number dropped to 56.1 per cent last year - compared to the national average of 58.8 per cent.

The hiccup is thought to be because of the controversial change in the marking of the GCSE English exam this time round - which resulted in a dip in achievement figures for a number of schools across the borough and sparked anger from headteachers.

Councillor Tim Crumpton, Dudley's cabinet member for children’s services, said: "We all know the English GCSE was messed with centrally. If they'd taken these exams earlier they would have had higher scores."

But he praised the efforts of borough schoolchildren and their teachers and added: "I know these kids did their best."