THE number of children gaining five good GCSEs including English and maths fell this year.

National figures show a drop from 59 per cent to 58.6 per cent of students — the first time that standards have fallen for a number of years.

There was a similar picture in Lancashire with attainment falling from 60.1 per cent to 59.5 per cent —- slightly outperforming the national average.

This reflects well-publicised national concerns over changes to exam marking and grading.

Lancashire County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: “Each year the debate about examination results rages afresh, but I feel strongly that we must not lose sight of the fact that students, teachers and families have worked together to achieve results that compare well with the rest of the country.

“I am very proud of them all and should like to give them my sincere congratulations.”

Tony Humphrys, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for schools and education, said: “I am delighted with the results achieved by our hard-working and talented students across the borough.

“These figures confirm that schools in Blackburn with Darwen are striving for improvement all the time and our schools are providing young people with a very good education.

“This is also a fantastic continuation of the borough’s BSF programme and its success.”