GCSE pass rates have fallen this year across the UK overall amid the biggest shake-up of exams in a generation.
Among 16-year-olds in England, around 18,600 maths entries scored a 9 - the new highest grade, while almost 31,000 achieved the top mark in the two English GCSEs combined.
Under the overhaul, traditional A* to G grades are being gradually replaced in England with a 9 to 1 system.
Key subjects English and maths are the first to move across, with others following over the next two years.
Today's figures show that across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the proportion of entries scoring at least an A grade - or a 7 under the new system - has fallen by 0.5 percentage points to 20 per cent compared to last summer, while the percentage gaining a C or above - or a 4 under the new system - is down 0.6 percentage points to 66.3 per cent.
The statistics, which have been published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), show that among 16-year-olds in England:
• In maths, 3.5 per cent of entries - around 18,617 in total - scored a 9
• In English, 2.6 per cent of entries - around 13, 754 in total - scored a 9
• In English literature, 3.3 per cent - around 17,187 in total - scored a 9
• Girls outperformed boys in 9 grades in both English GCSEs, while boys did better in maths at the highest result
Fewer candidates have achieved a 9 compared to the proportion that gained an A* under the traditional A* to G grading system, following the deliberate move to change the system to allow more differentiation, particularly between the brightest candidates.
Last year, four per cent of 16-year-olds in England scored an A* in English language, along with seven per cent in maths.
The grading switch is part of wider reforms designed to make GCSEs more rigorous and challenging.
There are now three top grades - 7, 8 and 9 - compared to two under the old system - A* and A - with A* results now split into 8s and 9s.