Belfast Telegraph

Boys close gap when it comes to getting the top grades at A-level

Proportion of all NI students celebrating an A* increases

Catherine Jackson and Ashleigh Murray on A-level results day at Dominican College
Catherine Jackson and Ashleigh Murray on A-level results day at Dominican College
Amy Stewart, Caitlin Herron and Danielle Paul at Girls’ Model
Rex Tinsley from Campbell College

By Michael McHugh

The gender gap is narrowing when it comes to top performing A-level students in Northern Ireland.

Around 28,000 received their A-level and AS-level results yesterday.

Some 8.8% of entries received an A* overall.

The proportion of students receiving the top grade increased slightly. Those awarded an A* rose 0.6 percentage points from last year, and almost a tenth received the top grade.

Girls outperformed boys at A* by 0.9 percentage points and by 3.2 points at grade A - but that has narrowed from 1.5 points and 6.5 points respectively in 2017.

Entries for A-level decreased by 2.3% this year, broadly in line with the drop in the size of the school age population.

Maths was the most popular A-level, with one in 10 studying the subject.

Participation in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and languages (French, German, Irish and Spanish) declined slightly, by half a percentage point or less.

The proportion of girls taking Stem subjects rose slightly.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, said pupils had performed well. He added: "The proportion of students taking Stem subjects and languages has decreased slightly, however Stem subjects continue to account for over one-third of A-level entries in Northern Ireland."

Education Authority chair Sharon O'Connor said the high standard of education in Northern Ireland's schools was something to celebrate.

She said: "As the world is changing, with the introduction of new technologies and new ways of doing things, we need to be sure that our young people are prepared to meet these challenges and capitalise on opportunities, and having a good education is all part of this."

DUP education spokesperson Peter Weir, a former Education Minister, said: "Once again Northern Ireland students have performed very well, with 30% of entries achieving A or A* grades and outperformed counterparts across the rest of the UK.

"Grades in Northern Ireland have improved at a time when results have fallen elsewhere."

Around 28,000 students received A-level and AS-level results. Many learned them online but others attended their schools.

Maths was the most popular A-level subject for boys and Biology for girls.

Business Studies was in the top five for both genders.

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