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Grades ‘demonstrate success of grammar system’

The strong performance by Northern Ireland’s A-level students has demonstrated the success of our grammar school system, it has been claimed.

The Governing Bodies Association (GBA), which represents 52 voluntary grammars across the province, said the success of pupils in both grammar and non-grammar schools should persuade the Education Minister not to “force a failing comprehensive model” on Northern Ireland.

GBA director John Hart said: “Once again young people in Northern Ireland have significantly outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales with another outstanding set of A-level results.

“These results help put Northern Ireland’s pupils in pole position when it comes to competing for university places.

“The Minister and others calling for widespread reform within education might do well to recognise the success pupils can achieve within our system in both grammar and non-grammar schools instead of zealously trying to force a failing comprehensive model upon unwilling parents and schools.”

Last year, 67 schools, mainly grammars, set their own entrance tests for P7 pupils. The second year of unregulated transfer from primary to post-primary schools is due to take place later this year and will again feature tests run independently by schools.

But Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has insisted that the success of Northern Ireland pupils at A-level is not down to the grammar school system. She told the BBC: “Why are things getting better? The leadership in our schools is getting better. Young people are very motivated and new technology helps as well.”

DUP Stormont Assembly education committee chairman Mervyn Storey said: “The A-level results are a strong endorsement of our tailored system of education, where specific academically-focused schools stretch pupils to their full potential. It is important that pupils are matched to schools best suited to their individual needs.”

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