Belfast Telegraph

New community college excels with first set of A-level results

By Rebecca Black

A newly formed school has emerged as the top performing in the controlled sector at A-level.

Abbey Community College ranks joint 36th in today's league tables after 75.9% of its pupils achieved three A-levels at grades A*-C - well ahead of the Northern Ireland average of 66.3% for all schools and 51.5% for similar schools.

This is the first set of A-level results since the opening of Abbey Community College in 2015 through the amalgamation of Newtownabbey Community High School and Monkstown Community School.

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It relates to a class size of 30 Year 14 pupils in the 2015/16 academic year.

Two years ago the former Monkstown Community School surpassed all the grammars to claim the top spot at A-level.

Celebrating the results, Abbey Community College principal Maria Quinn described it as a very strong foundation for the new institution.

"I am extremely proud of the achievements of all our students at A-level and would like to pay tribute to the hard work and dedication of staff to ensure these excellent outcomes," she said.

"This is a very strong foundation on which to build for the future development of our school as we continue to strive to meet the needs and aspirations of local children."

The chief executive of the Controlled Schools Support Council (CSSC) Barry Mulholland has offered his congratulations to the college.

"It is fantastic for a new school to achieve such outstanding results," he said.

"The school, the staff, the pupils and parents should be very proud of their accomplishments.

"Abbey Community College's achievement is all the more remarkable given that almost half of students at the school are eligible for free school meals (FSM). Our own research has demonstrated that schools with high levels of FSM entitlements are often challenged in terms of results."

Mr Mulholland added: "CSSC believes that academic performance should not be the only criteria for judging the quality of education on offer at a school and it is clear that the college's aim to provide every student with the opportunity to fulfil his or her potential regardless of ability is paying dividends."

Ulster Unionist education spokeswoman Rosemary Barton said many schools are strong in other areas.

"There will of course be many schools who are extremely pleased to have made progress in the league tables," she said.

"It is particularly pleasing to see a wide variety of schools from different sectors making their way into the top 10. However, we must always approach these tables with a degree of caution, particularly if parents are looking to them as a mark of quality.

"Many of the schools which appear outside the top 50 in these league tables are strong in other areas and may provide a variety of qualifications outside of the GCSEs and A-levels. It's important to look beyond these statistics in order to make truly informed decisions."

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