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Northern Ireland GCSE and A-Level school league tables 2017

By Rebecca Black

The number of Northern Ireland schools achieving a perfect 100% GCSE pass rate has almost doubled.

Today, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal in our exclusive school league tables that nine schools in the 2015/16 academic year saw 100% of their students achieve five or more GCSEs at grades A* to C, including the core subjects English and Maths.

The number is up from five the previous year.

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The perfect nine are Antrim Grammar; Assumption Grammar; Loreto College, Coleraine; Our Lady and St Patrick's College; Rathmore Grammar; Strathearn School; St Dominic's High School; Rainey Endowed School and St Louis Grammar in Ballymena.

Eight of these schools use academic selection to decide their Year 8 intake. Loreto announced its intention to move away from the use of academic selection in 2014.

The Belfast Telegraph's league tables include data on every secondary school in Northern Ireland.

St Comhghall's in Lisnaskea emerged as the top non-grammar school, in 36th place with a pass rate of 96.3%, followed by St Eugene's, Roslea in 63rd place with a pass rate of 81.3%.

According to the Department for Education, 67.9% of year 12 pupils in Northern Ireland achieved five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and Maths in the 2015/16 academic year. This figure represents a 0.9% increased on the previous year (2014/15).

Just one grammar school in Northern Ireland had a lower pass rate percentage than the average. That was Strabane Academy (59.5%).

Irish language school Colaiste Feirste recorded a major increase on the previous year, with 69.4% in 2015/16, up from 42.5% in 2014/15.

But the biggest rise was at St John's College in Omagh, which improved its pass rate percentage by 51.4 percentage points from 25.9% in 2014/15 to 77.3% in 2015/16.

There was also a significant improvement at Movilla High School in Newtownards, from 13.2% in 2014/15 to 27.5% in 2015/16, while Dundonald High School saw an increase from 19.4% to 29%. Both schools are currently being supported after being placed into formal intervention by school examiners in 2014 and 2017 respectively.

Former Education Minister Peter Weir said the results across the board are cause for celebration for our education system.

"This latest league table proves that Northern Ireland has a bright future and is a sound endorsement of our education system. It is clear that academic selection is providing pathways for our students which allow them to flourish. Furthermore, Northern Ireland continues to provide an education for every pupil, regardless of their socio-economic background. I want to congratulate each and every teacher for their dedication and hard work in achieving this excellent set of results, especially in the current financial climate."

Mr Weir said he believes it is "imperative" that devolution is restored and an Education Minister reappointed to help support schools and learners.

"While there is much to celebrate in terms of results and league tables, there is still much work to be done," Mr Weir said. "We want to see a functioning Stormont Executive. With investment from Westminster, it is imperative that we have an Education Minister and functioning Assembly in place. This will allow us to deal with the increasing level of issues relating to pertinent concerns of parents, pupils, teachers and principals."

Controlled Schools Support Council chief executive Barry Mulholland said: "I am delighted to see the wonderful achievements at GCSE by pupils and teachers in controlled schools.

"These results are a great reflection on the hard work they have applied. Antrim Grammar has continued to improve its academic performance and these outstanding results have rightly earned them top spot. The controlled education sector is very large and diverse. It's important that the achievements of our non-selective schools be recognised and celebrated.

"There is fantastic work being carried out throughout the sector. For example, Newtownhamilton High School prides itself on having a rich and diverse curriculum and has again performed exceptionally well academically. We at CSSC recognise and agree that academic performance is not the only method of measuring success."

Methodology: how we put data together

The Belfast Telegraph is the only source of comprehensive league tables showing the results of every post-primary school in Northern Ireland.

We obtained the data from the Department of Education for A-level and GCSE examinations sat in the 2015/16 academic year following a Freedom of Information request, and compiled the figures into easyto-read league tables ordered from top to bottom.

In the GCSE league tables we have used the percentage of pupils in the final year of a level 3 course who achieved five GCSEs between an A* to C grade in each school as the standard measure.

The Department of Education does not produce A-level or GCSE league tables and has asked us to point out that it does not endorse them.

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