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In a league of their own... five of our schools that are top of class

Published 03/05/2016

St Dominic's High School, Belfast

St Dominic's, in the heart of west Belfast, has topped the grammar school leaderboard for an impressive third year in a row. The Catholic all-girls' school educates the highest percentage of children on free school meals in the top 27 schools at A-levels, proving that this standard measure of poverty is no barrier to excellent results. It had 1,021 girls in the 2014/15 academic year.

Principal Carol McCann said she was delighted by her school's performance and said credit must go to the staff and pupils for their hard work.

St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena

St Louis broke back into the top 10 at A-level for the 2014/15 academic year after dropping slightly out of it in the previous year.

The school started life in 1924 as a convent for the education of Catholic girls. It went co-educational in 1970 and in 2014/15 had 1,036 pupils. Principal Sean Rafferty said they have been among the top four schools over the last five years. "The ethos of our school is one where aspirations and expectations are high, and where hard work is not only rewarded but expected in a non-intimidating atmosphere," he said.

Portora Royal School, Enniskillen

One of the oldest schools in Northern Ireland, Portora Royal scaled the ranks of the A-level league tables ahead of its merger with the Collegiate Grammar School.

Portora improved its pass rate percentage by an impressive 11 points to 82.7%, and its rank from 51st place to 18th place.

Portora principal Neil Morton said: "The school has a single-sex entry and is non-denominational, yet has emerged as the top school in Fermanagh, upturning patterns elsewhere in Northern Ireland."

Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)

The Royal Belfast Academical Institution is one of the best-known schools in Northern Ireland.

It dates back to 1810 and includes the former head of the civil service Sir Ken Bloomfield among its alumni. It had an enrolment of 1,009 in the 2014/15 academic year.

Principal Janet Williamson maintains her school's curriculum is outstanding and stands by that.

Ms Williamson also pointed out a school's performance is affected by its intake, catchment area and the number of pupils in that year which sat exams.

Friends School, Lisburn

Northern Ireland's only Quaker post-primary school is usually among the top performers academically and the 2014/15 year was no exception.

Friends, whose principal is Stephen Moore, was the top performing non-Catholic school with a percentage pass rate of 83.9%, down slightly from the 86.4% it attained in the previous year. It also excelled at GCSE, scoring a 100% pass rate.

The school was founded in 1774 as one of nine Quaker schools across the UK although it has grown and developed significantly since then.

Belfast Telegraph

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