Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

A-Level results: Northern Ireland students remain top of the class

Victoria College south Belfast: Left to right.  Helen Bennett, Emily Mulls, Sophie Pollock , Sophie McCoo and Rebekah Milligan.
Victoria College south Belfast: Left to right. Helen Bennett, Emily Mulls, Sophie Pollock , Sophie McCoo and Rebekah Milligan.
Victoria College south Belfast. Head Girl Rebekah Milligan - A* Biology, A* Maths , A Chemistry.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Victoria College south Belfast. Maria Doran - A* Business, B Drama, A Politics.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Head Girl Olivia Johnston - B ICT, B Business, D English Lit
Sarah Smyth from Lisneal College
Eden Franklin from Lisneal College
Emma Olphert from Lisneal College
St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast. Brian Harmon - C History, C Religion, C Technology.
Northern Ireland- 15th August 2013 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. A Level Results day in Northern Ireland. St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast. Kerry- Ann Rainey - A* English Lit, A History and A Religion.
Victoria College south Belfast. Sophie McCoo - A Biology, A Technology, A PE.
Wellington College south Belfast. Alan Reid - E Geography, E History, D English.
Victoria College south Belfast. Sophie Pollock - A Maths, Business and ICT.
Wellington College south Belfast. Dominque Dada - B Chemistry, B Biology, B Psychology.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. David Smyth - C Politics, C History, U ICT.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. James Cluney - A Construction, D ICT, E Science.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Glena Knox- Bradley - A Biology, A Chemistry, B Sociology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Emma McCully - B Business, B Drama, B RE.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Ashley Law - B Health and Social Care, B Art and Design, B ICT.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Conall Gilmore - B History, B Politics, B Sociology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Duncan Macmillan - A Math, B Physics, B Politics, D Chemistry.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Roseanna McGill - A Sociology, A RE, A Drama.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Caelan Trodden - A Sociology, A History, B Politics.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Left to right. Tara Crawford - A* Business, A Biology, B Chemistry and Sarah Armstrong - A* Maths, A* Further Maths, A Biology, A Chemistry and A Physics.
A Level Results day in Northern Ireland. St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Ciara Van Merkom - A* Maths, A Geography, B Biology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Twins Sarah and Luke Withers with mum Geraldine
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. James Cluney - A Construction, D ICT, E Science.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Philip Burrows - A Applied Science, B IT, B Sport Studies.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Caelan Trodden - A Sociology, A History, B Politics.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast. Ciara Van Merkom - A* Maths, A Geography, B Biology.
Lagan College in east Belfast. Left to right. Chantelle Harvey, Sarah Lambe, Jacguie Livings, Alex McNaney, Aimee Dowds Roddy and Olivia Gamble.
Emmet Mullan from St. Columb's College
Dean O'Driscoll from St. Columb's College
St Louise's Comprehensive College west Belfast.Gemma McFerran - A Religion, A Media Studies and A* Drama.
Hazelwood Integrated College in Newtownabbey. Danielle Maginnes - C Heath and Social Studies, C ICT, D Art.
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast
St Dominic's Grammar School west Belfast

Northern Ireland’s students are top of the class in the regional A-Level performances.

More A* and A grades were awarded to Northern Ireland candidates than in England and Wales, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications.

The percentage of top grades — A* and A — in Northern Ireland was 30.7%. That was 1.2% down on last year, but still 4.4 percentage points ahead of England and Wales.

The overall pass rate here recorded a slight increase on last year, with 98.2% of A-Level pupils achieving A*-E pass grades.

Those getting A*-C grades remain unchanged at 83.5%.

Girls continue to out-perform boys. But the gap is narrowing, especially at the highest level, where 7.2% of girls achieved A*, slightly down on last year but marginally ahead of the 7.1% of boys.

The gender gap at the overall pass rate has also closed, with 97.8% of boys receiving A* to E, while the proportion of girls remained unchanged at 98.5%.

Nearly 33,000 pupils sat A-levels this summer, a slight fall from last year. But compared to five years ago, the figures indicate that more and more young people are opting to stay on at school, which is thought to have brought the pass rate down.

 At the start of the downturn, in 2007/8, 47.3% of pupils chose to sit their A-Levels rather than entering the job market or regional colleges at 16. That has jumped by 11.3%, to 58.6%, in 2012/13 — as pupils pursue further education.

However, 11.7% of pupils are also opting not to sit their A-Levels, despite completing AS modules, moving instead into the job market, apprenticeships or further education.

As more pupils stay on at school, they are also choosing to qualify in subjects which are most likely to translate into employment in today’s job market.

The sciences, maths and technology (known as STEM subjects), computing and ICT are all attracting a steady increase in numbers. Spanish has grown in popularity as pupils taking French and German tail off. A total of 550 pupils took A-Level French this summer, followed by 513 entries in A-Level Spanish, while Irish saw an increase in entries to 309.

Business studies registered the largest jump among the subjects — with 13.8% more people sitting the subject — followed by geography, Spanish, religious studies, chemistry and political studies. Subjects declining in popularity this year included art and design, drama, physical education and media studies.

Just over 46% of people who sat maths at A-Level achieved top grades of A* or A — with a 63% top success rate in further mathematics. German, Irish and modern languages also saw some of the best performances.

Anne Marie Duffy, director of qualifications at the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, Northern Ireland’s exam body, said: “The results show a very strong pattern of preference for traditional subjects and an increased entry in STEM subjects... because pupils see those as an entry into either further education or indeed further employment.”

Education Minister John O’Dowd praised pupils, teachers and parents for the high success rate in this year’s A-Levels.

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