Some of the country's grammar schools and top comprehensives still need to improve their pupils' maths and English, the publication of new figures has disclosed for the first time.
Only 35 of the grammar schools that returned their GCSE results to The Independent yesterday saw all their pupils achieve good passes in maths and English. This is despite the fact that their pupils would have had to pass demanding entrance exams aged 11 in order to join the school.
However, not one comprehensive school reached this standard.
Business leaders said it was a "sad indictment" of an education system that was failing to teach youngsters basic skills.
Richard Lambert, the director general of the CBI, warned that too many students were still not achieving the minimum standards in maths and English.
Mr Lambert said: "We must not lose sight of the severe problems which exist - around half of this year's GCSE students have fallen short of learning the basic reading, writing and arithmetic skills needed in the modern world despite 11 years of education. It is a sad indictment of a system which is failing to deliver these vital skills. Ministers must step up their efforts."
Employers say youngsters need to achieve at least a grade C in GCSE maths and English to be ready for the workplace. But this year only 54 per cent reached this standard in maths and only 62 per cent in English. The proportion who made the grade in both is likely to be even lower.
This year's best performing comprehensive was Thomas Telford school in Shropshire, which was ranked top for the seventh year running. It saw 100 per cent of its students achieve five good GCSE passes, while 95 per cent did so when including maths and English. Sir Kevin Satchwell, the headmaster, attributed his school's success to its policy of pupils' sitting national tests normally taken by 14-year-olds a year early, leaving an extra year for GCSE studies.
The top grammar school was Chelmsford County High School for Girls, where all students achieved at least five good passes, including English and maths.
Big improvements were also seen at the bottom of the table. At the Marlowe Academy in Ramsgate, Kent, which replaced the worst performing comprehensive school last year - Ramsgate School - 29 per cent of pupils had achieved five good GCSE passes.Reuse content