Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Northern Ireland pupils come out top of the class in UK

Northern Ireland A-level pupils have once again outperformed their counterparts in the rest of the UK.

Almost 9% (8.6%) of the grades issued to the 12,756 candidates who sat the exams at 194 schools and colleges here were A*, which was introduced last year. That was even higher than the UK average of 8.2%.

And while the percentage of A* to A grades (34.5%) awarded to Northern Ireland students was well above the UK average (27%), there were less of the coveted top grades awarded compared to 2010 (35.9%).

The percentage of A* to C grades awarded here was 84.2% compared to the UK average (76.2%).

There was also a record high of 32,582 A-level entries, with some pupils taking exams in up to six subjects.

Girls once again outperformed boys. Just 7.9% of A* grades - down on last year's 9% - were achieved by males compared with 9.1% of females.

Anne-Marie Duffy, director of qualifications at CCEA, said: "The figures show that our students have achieved a first class set of results. Overall, performance is comparable with previous years."

Traditional subjects including STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) have remained among the most popular choices and pupils continued to perform well in those areas.

Languages saw an across the board decrease in popularity with entries down for German (21.9%), French (19.7%) and Irish (6.8%).

Meanwhile, Education Minister John O'Dowd and Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry congratulated students who have received their results.

Mr O'Dowd's first port of call was Boys' Model in north Belfast - where he took the time to speak to pupils before visiting St Joseph's College on the Ravenhill Road.

"These results are the product of hard work over many years by our young people with support from their teachers and parents and I congratulate everyone involved."

Dr Farry added: "It is heartening to see so many of our young people achieving the grades they need for their chosen pathways and they deserve our congratulations."

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