By Marcus Leach

The number of GCSEs awarded declined for five consecutive years under Labour, according to figures released by examinations watchdog Ofqual.

Over the same period, between 2005-6 and 2009-10, the number of young people completing 'other qualifications' rose by more than 2 million.

Many of these 'other qualifications' were recently described by Professor Alison Wolf in an independent review conducted for the government as 'low-level vocational qualifications, most of which have little to no labour market value'.

The figures reinforce a damning picture of how educational standards plummeted under Labour with young people pushed away from core subjects - an issue that Education Secretary Michael Gove is addressing by introducing the 'English Baccalaureate'.

The English Baccalaureate is a new certificate which rewards pupils who have secured a C grade or better across a core of academic subjects - English, mathematics, history or geography, the sciences and a language. The percentage of children achieving the English Baccalaureate in each school is now also provided in Performance tables.

"This is further proof that the last government placed propaganda about rising examination success rates ahead of the importance of ensuring pupils take high-quality qualifications," Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi said.

"They let down a generation of young people. Under this government, the English Baccalaureate will ensure that all pupils, whatever their background, can access a rigorous, broad-based and academic education."