Exam grades rise, but 132 left school without any GCSEs last year
More pupils are leaving schools here with better grades, official figures show.
However, some 132 pupils left last year with no GCSEs, and nearly half of these without any formal qualifications at all.
The figures are contained in the latest annual statistical bulletin on the qualifications and destinations of Northern Ireland's 21,983 school leavers in the 2016/17 academic year, which was issued yesterday by the Department of Education.
Of the school leavers, some 9,727 attended grammars and 12,256 attended non-grammars.
The bulletin shows the percentage of those achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent has increased by 7.3% in five years - from 76.5% in 2011/12 to 83.8% in the 2016/17 academic year.
This pass rate dips to 69.6% when the core subjects of English and maths are included, but that also represents an increase in recent years of 7.6% since 2011/12 (62%).
However, there is still a wide gap in achievement for pupils classified as being from lower income households.
The percentage of those entitled to free school meals achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent, including English and maths, in 2016/17 was 47.5%.
Some 132 pupils left school during the 2016/17 academic year with no GCSEs, and 62 left without any formal qualifications at all.
The total with no GCSEs includes 69 who were entitled to free school meals and 63 who were not.
They were made up of 82 boys and 50 girls.
The total with no formal qualifications includes 23 who were entitled to free school meals and 39 who were not (36 boys and 26 girls).
Meanwhile, an increase in performance was also recorded at A-level.
The percentage who achieved three or more A-levels at grades A*-C or equivalent was 40.7% in 2016/17 - up 4.3% from five years ago.
And the proportion of school leavers who went on to university in 2016/17 increased to 43.3%.