GCSE students have produced results higher than the national average, despite seeing a drop in benchmark grades.

The provisional results suggest that across Brighton and Hove 67% of pupils achieved A* to C in English, compared to 63% nationally.

And the percentage of pupils achieving A* to C in maths is also above the national average at 65% against a figure of 62%.

After huge changes for students taking GCSEs this year, experts predicted it to be a volatile year nationally.

There has been a fall of 8.6 percentage points for the proportion of students in the city achieving the benchmark five A* to C grades including English and Maths from 62.6% in 2013 to 54% this year.

Many headteachers across the county have laid the blame of the slump in grades in the new way GCSEs were marked this year, particularly in English where there was no coursework and grades were decided solely decided on the end-of-term exam.

Among those was Lancing’s Sir Robert Woodard Academy (SRWA) headteacher Peter Midwinter. He said: “We stand by the decision not to alter students’ programmes of study in a knee-jerk reaction to changes to qualifications during students’ courses. “Whilst acknowledging the impact this would have on the academy’s headline figures, individual student’s outcomes will always be our priority.

“Many schools were faced with a moral dilemma as a consequence of the then Secretary of State Michael Gove's decision to change the way in which some combination of subjects count in the league tables.

“SRWA decided that it was in the best interests of the students to continue with their programme of study that was already well underway when the changes were announced.

“This means that this year's students' achievements, although valid for them, will not be entirely reflected in the league tables. SRWA will not be alone in having made difficult choices regarding league table ‘performance’.” Chairwoman of Brighton and Hove City Council’s children and young people committee, councillor Sue Shanks, expressed concern about a number of vocational and BTEC courses being discarded this year.

But she said: “In particular I would like to congratulate BACA for their work reducing the gap in attainment between pupils in receipt of free school meals – a recognised indicator of deprivation – and those who are not.

“This is the top priority of our city’s secondary schools partnership and our Education and Inclusion Team.

“A lot of work has gone on this year including schools sharing best practice in this vital are.”