GCSE results in Kirklees are just over 3% down on last year.
Kirklees education officials have blamed this on the government’s ever-changing academic goalposts, not on lack of students’ or teachers’ efforts.
Last year, the percentage of Kirklees students achieving at least five A* to C grades, including English and maths, was 62.7% – well above the national average of 59.2%.
This year’s pass rate is expected to be around 59%. This is the first downturn for four years – since 2010 there has been a marked overall improvement in GCSE results across the district.
A council spokesman said: “Overall, early indications are that the local performance for 2014 will show a decline resulting from a number of changes that have come into force nationally this year. This is reflected in many other parts of the country.
“This is the first year of results following the switch to a greater emphasis on exams at the end of two years, rather than course work and modular units.
“The government have also changed the way they record GCSE figures and, in many cases, are excluding the best grades achieved by students. For example, where a student achieved a D grade halfway through their course but a B at the end, the government data may only include the earlier D.”
Clr Shabir Pandor, Kirklees Council Cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We would like to congratulate our young people on their talent and dedication.
“It’s meaningless for the government to compare this year’s data with last year’s when they are clearly using different criteria. It’s far more meaningful and accurate to compare like with like.
“Therefore, in Kirklees we are focusing on the GCSE results which, as in 2013, reflect the number of students who passed the key benchmark of at least five A* to C grades including English and maths.
“Results in Kirklees are reflecting the national situation, which is very volatile. We know that many other local authorities are in a similar situation. There have been rises in achievement at some local schools and different outcomes for others.
“Thousands of young people have worked incredibly hard on their GCSEs and there have been some really excellent outcomes across the district. Success at GCSE level is also due to high standards of local education, in which staff and leaders show talent and dedication.
“We are very proud of our young people and of the work that takes place in helping them fulfil their potential.”