However, selective schools still make up the bulk of the top performers because of their high entry standards.
A poll of some of the best performing schools showed that the top comprehensive, Tarporley County High School in Cheshire, outstripped many selective schools. Sixth-formers at the school, which serves a rural community outside Chester, gained an average score of 27 points - the equivalent of two As and a B grade.
Alan Sieber, the head teacher, said yesterday: "It's wonderful on these occasions to hear little whoops of joy. That was the most common sound at the school today. The results have never been quite as good as this.
"We are proud of the fact that we are a comprehensive. The vast majority of youngsters in the area come to the school and we have a full range of abilities."
The top state grammar school was King Edward VI Grammar in Chelmsford, Essex, where students achieved an average score of 33.7 points - almost the equivalent of each student getting one grade A and three Bs.
One examination board was facing intense criticism yesterday after schools reported that some of their examination results were incomplete.
Katherine Lady Berkeley School in Gloucestershire said the results of modern language oral exams, which account for 30 per cent of the marks, had not been included in the grade by the exam board, the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate.
Dorothy Chilton, the deputy head, said: "Naturally people are very upset. One girl has been rejected by the university which had made her a conditional offer. We are contacting them to explain, but it has caused great distress."
Other schools complained that the marks for component parts of the geography exam from the same board did not tally with the final grade - someone, for example, who scored B for all three components had been awarded a D. One pupil had been given a deadline of Monday by a university to sort out the problem.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the examination board, said that it was committed to sorting out any difficulties within 72 hours.
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