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Congratulations from Education Minister Peter Weir as A-level students top result tables

By Allan Preston

Jubilant Northern Ireland students have outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales in the A-level results.

While pupils were able to check their grades online, many took the traditional route and travelled to school to find out with their friends.

Top grades were up slightly, with 29.5% of students achieving A or A* grades - an increase of 0.2% on last year - with A*-E grades remaining the same at 98.2%.

Girls have continued to outperform boys across all grades, but boys are closing the gap at the highest A* grade.

More: What our bright young things hope to achieve in the future

Speaking at Sullivan Upper school in Holywood yesterday, Education Minister Peter Weir said: "My congratulations go to all of the pupils who have received their results today. Our young people have performed very well and I wish them well in their next steps. I am pleased that as with previous years our students have outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales."

The top A* grade went to 7.8% of girls, but with boys catching up by 0.1% to 7.5%.

Performance levels remained strong and stable, with 7.7% of entries receiving an A*, up 0.1% on last year.

Boys did, however, edge out in front in some individual subjects, including maths (13.6% compared to 8.2%) and history (7.9% compared to 6.8%).

Maths was the number one subject in terms of candidate choice this year, with nearly 11% of students in Northern Ireland taking it on. And 2016 is also the highest ever entry for girls taking maths, up 16% from 2014.

Subjects such as history, English and religious studies also remain in the top five most popular choices.

However, students picking language subjects dipped by 2.5%, largely due to a reduction in French studies.

For AS-level grades the results matched those in 2015, with 94.8% of students achieving A-E. Among those celebrating was Campbell College head boy Ben Taylor, who finished his year in style with 4A*s. He was joined by Alex Nagar, with both pupils achieving the top grades in mathematics, further mathematics, physics and chemistry.

Headmaster Robert Robinson said: "Ben has been an outstanding role model as head boy and with this performance he finishes his time at the college with a flourish."

Kerry Gilmore, who teaches English and media studies at Royal Belfast Academical Institution, added: "We had a lot of A* grades, and we're thrilled for the boys. It's great to see them in school today knowing they can embark on their future, and it's just lovely to see them in such good form."

Michelle Nugent, assistant principal at Belfast's Victoria College, said: "We are completely delighted. Once again the girls have excelled in their performance, with 82.6% of them getting A*-C grades, so they are really chuffed."

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