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League tables: Northern Ireland schools at A-Level

Catholic schools take up the top 11 places

By Rebecca Black

Not a single non-Catholic school has made it into the top 11 in Northern Ireland for A-level results.

Today the Belfast Telegraph publishes its annual must-read guide for the performance of every post primary school in the province.

The league table for A-levels sat during the 2014/15 academic year reveals that Catholic schools have increased their lead, taking the top 11 spots. Last year four of the top six schools had been non-Catholic.

The top performing grammar was St Dominic's High in west Belfast, where 94.9% of pupils received three passes at A-level.

The top non-grammar was St Colm's High in Draperstown, where 88.1% achieved the top grades.

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Whereas the top performing non-Catholic school was Friends in Lisburn (83.9%).

These results have prompted the principal of one of the top performing Catholic schools to call for the Department of Education to examine what makes these institutions so successful and learn lessons from them.

Sean Rafferty, head of St Louis Grammar in Ballymena, said: "If you take a look at the top 11 schools they are all faith-based, and I think that says it all."

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He added: "It's a combination of community support and a buy-in from parents, whole ethos of acheivement, we don't accept second best and all the time strive for excellence.

"This is something which I think the Department of Education should be looking at, they should be asking what is the magic ingredient which is making all the top performing schools in Northern Ireland Catholic schools."

DUP education spokesman Peter Weir said lessons could be learned from Catholic schools. "While there is a very strong caveat to be made to the results, as some schools put in pupils for three A-levels and some for four, and some stagger entries while others don't, therefore you are not comparing like for like always, nevertheless there are important lessons to be learned," he said.

He added the main focus on educational underachievement should primarily be put on Protestant working class boys.

The performance of six grammars fell below the Northern Ireland average of 64.9%, including Royal Belfast Academical Institution (64.8%).

Principal Janet Williamson said she believed it did not reflect the true success of her pupils. The Department of Education said it did not endorse league tables as a "valid basis" for comparing schools.

Methodology: how we compiled the data

The Belfast Telegraph is the only source of comprehensive league tables showing the results of every post-primary school in Northern Ireland.

We obtained the data from the Department of Education for A-level and GCSE examinations sat in the 2014/15 academic year following a Freedom of Information request and compiled the figures into easy-to-read league tables ordered from top to bottom.

In the A-level league tables we have used the percentage of pupils in the final year of a level 3 course who achieved three A-levels between an A* to C grade in each school as the standard measure.

There are then 36 schools where A-levels were either not sat in 2014/15 or the numbers who sat them were so low that the pupils could be identified if results were published. We have not ranked these schools by number.

The Department of Education does not produce A-level or GCSE league tables and have asked us to point out that they do not endorse them.

Belfast Telegraph


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