Figures have shown that more than one in four girl pupils – 26.5 per cent – were awarded an A or A* – compared with 19.8 per cent of boys.
The GCSE results show an increase, for the 23rd year running, in the proportion of entries awarded between an A* and a C grade. A total of 69.8 % of entries made that grade. But the overall pass rate (A* to E) dropped to 92.7 %.
Overall, almost one in four pupils (23.2 %) scored at least an A grade in 2011 – including A* grades – up from 22.6% in 2010.
In Northern Ireland, nearly 75% of GCSE exams scored between an A* and a C grade. In England, 69% made that grade and in Wales the figure was 66%.
Results also revealed the popularity of different GCSE subjects, and 2011 saw an increase in the numbers taking individual sciences but a continued fall in numbers taking history, geography and modern foreign languages.
‘Modern languages are having a hard time, it has to be said, going down 11 per cent over the year, and 22 per cent over five years,’ said Andrew Hall, chief executive of AQA.
Some children aren’t able to study within a school environment, whether that is due to bullying or behavioural problems, but that doesn’t mean they should miss out on an education. GCSEs and A-levels can be achieved through home study courses, also known as distance learning courses.