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MLAs praise Northern Ireland students receiving A-Level results

Northern Ireland's politicians have praised the thousands of students who received their A-Level results on Thursday.

Results have shown the proportion of top A-level grades achieved by Northern Ireland students has risen significantly.

Figures have showed 30.4% of pupils received grades A* or A, an increase of 0.9% percentage points on the previous year.

The gap between girls and boys has also widened as, for the first time, the latter's results slumped when compared across all grades.

Former Education Minister Peter Weir, DUP MLA for Strangford has praised students across Northern Ireland on their A and AS Level results.

He said: "I welcome the announcement of the results of this year's A and AS level results and particularly the achievements of our local students in Northern Ireland. Yet again Northern Irish students and schools are the flagship of success for the rest of the United Kingdom, outperforming their counterparts in England, Scotland and Wales.

"The gap in results is startling with 30.4% of entries in Northern Ireland achieving A* or A grades, compared to 26.3% across the UK as a whole."

He added: "This has not happened by accident, and I commend the hard work and dedication of local students, teachers and supportive parents, without whom would have not been possible.

"I wish all our A and AS Level pupils well for the future, no matter what pathway they take, and for those who didn't get the result they wanted, I urge them not to panic but to take advantage of the help from careers service to plot the best way forward. Above all though, I congratulate our pupils and they should enjoy today celebrating the fruits of their labour."

SDLP education spokesperson, Colin McGrath MLA has also been congratulating local students on another "bumper" year for A-Level results.

Mr McGrath, a former youth worker, also urged those who haven't received the grades they had hoped for to make full use of the advice services on offer. He said: "It looks like it has been another bumper year for Northern Ireland's best and brightest students. Our high flyers continue to perform at the highest levels and that's something we should rightly be proud of.

"But for many students who've worked incredibly hard over the last number of years, today's news will have been a disappointment. It's important that anyone who finds themselves in that position make full use of advice services on offer from UCAS and their schools."

McGrath continued: "There are pathways open, your hard work hasn't counted for nothing because your plan has been changed. Exam results don't define us as people, there will be amazing opportunities ahead, regardless of the letters on that page.

"As another set of students prepares for university, college or the world of work, it's important that we provide the best opportunities for them to live, work and make a home here. That demands a functioning government as soon as possible."

Ulster Unionist education spokesperson, Rosemary Barton MLA, congratulated pupils receiving results but emphasised that not enough is being done to tackle chronic issues in our education system.

Mrs Barton stated: "For another year pupils have been outperforming their counterparts in England and Wales in their A-levels and I offer my sincerest congratulations to everyone receiving their results today.

"Whatever the results, students should take time to asses their future options carefully. Take time to research what is best for you, whether looking for employment opportunities now, re-sitting some subjects or going on to Further or Higher Education."

The MLA added: "We cannot continue to watch this gap widen year on year and not take any action. Unfortunately, without a Minister in place it will be very difficult to tackle the issue. In some cases, teachers can only do so much.

"These excellent results have been achieved in spite of a very challenging budgetary situation facing schools at the moment, and everyone - students, teachers and of course parents – should be applauded for their efforts."

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