There is an "alarming drop" in the number of students sitting creative subjects at GCSE and the government "must acknowledge" that forcing pupils to resit maths and English is not in their best interests, teachers' unions have warned.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the new EBacc was "undermining critical subjects such as design and technology and art, despite their clear link to many careers and occupations in sectors that the UK thrives in".
"This is a disturbing consequence of the accountability regime now placed on schools," she said.
Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, commented that the pattern of results revealed some "troubling trends".
"The fall in entry for subjects such as dance, art and music continues. This is significant and comes as a result of the government's prescriptive Ebacc initiative and insufficient school funding," he said.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said an overarching strategy for languages which included recruiting teachers with the right skills was needed.
"In a worrying echo of A-levels last week, there is a decline in the number of those taking French and German and a decline in the results too," he said.
"This may develop into a continuing trend: fewer GCSE entrants will lead into fewer A-level entrants; lower take-up will mean courses become unsustainable for schools; some courses may disappear altogether."
While he welcomed the rise in computing entries, he said: "Too strong a focus on EBacc subjects, driven by high stakes accountability, with little room for any additional subject choices at key stage four, means pupils can be limited in their subject choices at A-level too.
"We ask the government to look again at the aim that 90% of students must be entered for EBacc - unless they are prepared to value a wider range of rigorous subjects."
Vicky Gough, schools adviser at the British Council, said it was "another disappointing day for language learning as GCSE entries continue to fall".
"Highly-valued languages French and German have suffered once again with respective declines of 8.1% and 7.0%," she said.
"And although French remains the most popular of the GCSE languages, uptake has more than halved in the past two decades.
"In fact, this year's figures paint a worrying picture for languages overall with the total number of students sitting a languages GCSE this year being less than half of those sitting one in maths."
She added: "The reality is that language skills matter to the UK with our current lack of them estimated to cost the country billions of pounds a year."
The requirement to resit maths and English GCSEs if pupils fail to gain a C grade was also criticised.
Martin Doel, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, called on the government to reconsider creating a qualification that was "more fit-for-purpose".
"Further education colleges face an ever-increasing challenge as more students are re-sitting GCSE English and maths - an increase in entries of approximately 25% in the last year alone," he said.
"The English and maths challenge is compounded by the fact that colleges may be supporting students who are demoralised and disheartened after failing to achieve the necessary grades after 11 years in school.
"It's important that all young people have a good standard of literacy and numeracy but not everyone can get a grade C at GCSE."
Jill Stokoe, education policy advisor at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said the government "must acknowledge" that forcing 17-year-olds to resit English and maths until they pass was "not in the best interests of students".
She said the strategy was "clearly not working because fewer students are passing their re-sits now that they are compulsory".
"And this policy is clearly having an impact on the overall results for English and mathsGCSEs, as this year nearly 40% of students didn't achieve A*-C.
"We suspect that the fall in A*-C grades reflects the impact of the government's ill thought-out policy to push all students to do the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects."
Professor Jo-Anne Baird, director of the Department of Education at the University of Oxford, said an alternative exam would be "more suitable" for those taking resits.
"The requirement for all to gain grade C standards in English and maths is surely the right aspiration for the education system, but resitting an exam that you failed, maybe because it didn't engage you in the first place, could switch people off to further learning.
"An alternative GCSE that would be more suitable for this large group of students really should be developed."
Noel Tagoe, executive director of CIMA Education, said it was "disappointing" to see a decline in maths pass rates.
"This is the last year that we'll see the traditional grades of A-C for maths, but that won't alter how essential a good grounding in applied mathematics is for future employment," he said.
"Our figures show that UK firms are twice as likely as our European peers to worry that school leavers lack skills such as basic numeracy.
"Maths is fundamental to a solid career, so it is disappointing to see pass rates for maths down."
But Professor Adrian Sutton, deputy chairman of the Royal Society's education committee, praised students taking maths, science and computing GCSEs.
"We're pleased to see so many students studying the breadth of the sciences and it is encouraging that more and more students are seeing GCSE computing as important to their futures, reflected in an increase in entries of 76.4% - a big jump from last year," he said.
"Science is at the heart of modern life and essential to understanding the world.
"Along with maths and computing, it equips young people to prosper in today's rapidly changing, knowledge-focused economies."
Dr Francis Gilbert, lecturer in the Department of Educational Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London, called on the government to abolish GCSEs and said that pupils, parents and teachers felt like "political pawns".
"At first glance these results show that results have fallen off a cliff," he said.
"Why is this? Because since 2010 the government has had a clear narrative: Labour made exams too easy and 'dumbed' things down too much so the Tories brought in more 'rigorous' exams, hence the drop in top grades.
"The problem with this is that teachers, students and parents all feel like they are political pawns, victims of successive education secretaries who have been hell-bent on reducing the 'pass-rate'.
"This is a scary prospect for schools and teachers but it also has important implications ... Above all, it means that they can demand that schools are turned into academies - which the government claims will help raise standards."
The decline in languages was labelled "worrying".
Mr Courtney commented: "The decrease in the number of students sitting modern foreign languages probably links to the difficulty many schools have in recruiting qualified language teachers.
"Languages are a critical subject in preparing students for the modern world and better long-term planning in terms of supplying adequate teacher numbers is urgent."
School standards minister Nick Gibb said: "The hard work and determination of hundreds of thousands of 16-year-olds will be rewarded today as they collect their GCSE results; qualifications that are the gateway to the next stage of their education.
"We want to make our country a place where there is no limit on anyone's ambition or what they can achieve - that's why we are working to ensure there are even more high-quality schools in every part of the country.
"And I am pleased to see that there are more GCSEs being taken in the core academic subjects, those that give students a wider range of opportunities.
"And for those 17-year-olds who have struggled to achieve good grades in maths, we are seeing 4,000 more successful re-takes of those exams; delivering better prospects for every one of those young people."