Southampton’s teenagers bucked the national trend by getting better results in GCSEs this summer.

The proportion of city pupils gaining the benchmark of five or more A* to C grades including maths and English rose, despite a drop across the country for the first time.

But education leaders say the figures still don’t reflect what the true achievement should have been, because of the debacle over the grading of English papers.

The statistics, released by the Department of Education, show there was a drop in the percentage of Hampshire youngsters making the grade, although the county still has a higher proportion achieving the benchmark than Southampton.

Although they are based on “verified” results, the figures are still dependent on the outcome of a legal challenge, part-backed by Southampton City Council, attempting to overhaul some of the English grades.

As reported, exam boards shifted grade boundaries and introduced harsher marking for assessments in June compared to those sat in January.

Around 600 pupils in Hampshire and 136 in Southampton were left with lower grades because of the fiasco, despite doing at least as well as others who took tests early.

Southampton’s education chief Cllr Sarah Bogle said last night: “I am delighted that Southampton’s pupils are bucking the national trend in terms of improvement in their results.

“There has been a strong level of collaboration and commitment to raising attainment across Southampton’s family of schools, and I am confident we can build on this success for future years and narrow the gap further with national performance.”

Ruth Evans, the new chairman of Southampton Secondary Heads Forum, also believes schools increasingly working together is having a positive effect on results.

She said: “These results are good news for the city and deserved by students and staff, who have worked so hard to achieve them.

“It is also a reflection of the positive partnership and collaborative working across all Southampton’s secondary schools.

“Together we are driving progress and improvement and we are committed to continuing to do this.”

Hampshire County Council’s schools boss Cllr Roy Perry said he was pleased with the results, despite the impact of the lowered English grades.

He said: “I have challenged [exams watchdog] Ofqual over this inequity and have written to them a joint letter with my fellow lead members in Southampton, Portsmouth and the IOW expressing our shared concerns that their actions appear unfair and have disadvantaged many children as a result.

“All this should not overshadow what is again a very good set of results for Hampshire children and I wish them all well in their future careers.”