Belfast Telegraph

More pupils score top GCSE grades

More pupils in Northern Ireland have scored top grades at GCSE.

Three quarters of results were A* to C grades, compared with 69.1% across the rest of the UK, and 8.9% were awarded the premier A* mark.

The most popular GCSEs were mathematics, English and double award science, but there was a drop in the number of students studying languages, markedly French.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment's director of qualifications Anne Marie Duffy said: "This is a day of celebration for students in Northern Ireland and they can be proud of what they have achieved. The results are a testament to their hard work and dedication and to the commitment of carers, parents and teachers who support them."

The number achieving grades A* to C increased 1.2%. Girls' performance rose by 1.5% and boys' by 0.8%. Almost 11% of girls achieved a grade A* compared with almost 7% of boys.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane told students: "The excellent results highlight not only your own determination, but the inspiration and motivation provided by your parents and teachers throughout your education."

The proportion of pupils leaving school without five good GSCEs, including English and maths, has dropped from more than 12,000 (47.4%) in 2005-06 to 9,500 (41.6%) in 2008-09.

Ms Ruane added: "This is a direct result of the series of progressive reforms I have introduced to improve the education system since I took up office. However, I'm sure we all agree that 9,500 pupils remains a startling figure, one which I am dedicated to reducing further through raising standards and tackling underachievement across all schools."

Employment and Learning Minister Sir Reg Empey said pupils should explore their options for the future. "If you did not achieve the results you had hoped for, today is not a day to panic, as there are many other opportunities available to you and I would urge you to examine these fully," he said.

Seamus Searson, Northern Ireland organiser for the NASUWT teaching union, said: "Congratulations to all those students collecting their results in what is another year of fantastic success and achievement. The increase in pupils receiving A*-C grades is a result of the commitment of teachers and the application of the students in Northern Ireland."

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