NI students results continue to improve
Females in Northern Ireland continue to outperform their male counterparts in GCSE examinations.
On Thursday morning the 29,170 students who sat GCSE examinations set by local board CCEA at 264 testing centres found out what grades they got.
Those who sat CCEA exams in May range from a 10-year-old pupil of primary school age right up to a pensioner aged 71.
Females continue to perform better than males with 83.5% of all female entries gaining a C/4 or above (up 0.6 percentage points on last year).
Girls now outperform them by 1.5 percentage points at the A* grade and 6.5 percentage points at A*-A.
However, male entries achieving grades A*- C improved to 75.4%, up 0.1 percentage points on 2016.
The gap between Female and Male performance at A*- C grades has widened by 0.5 percentage points to 8.1%.
For the first time this year's GCSE results include 9-1 graded qualifications.
In Northern Ireland the new 9-1 grade - where nine is the best score - will only apply to GCSE mathematics and English literature exams set by English and Welsh boards AQA, OCR, Pearson and Eduqas. A little over 3% of students here will receive a numerical grade.
Next year more exam subjects offered by these boards will use the numerical system.
CCEA will not change to the numerical 9-1 grading. In 2019 the new CCEA letter grading will be introduced, with the Grade A* aligned to the Grade 9. In addition, a Grade C* will be introduced and aligned with the Grade 5.
Figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications show that students here continue to make steady improvements at GCSE level, with small rises across the grades.
There has been a slight rise of 0.7 percentage points, for entries awarded the top A* grade, rising to 10%. Entries awarded A* - C grades have improved slightly with a 0.4 percentage points increase to 79.5%.
GCSE entries in Northern Ireland have fallen by 3.2% from 161,975 to 156,806.
Student performances at English and maths have risen slightly.
In GCSE English, the percentage of entries achieving A* - C grades increased by 1.8 percentage points to 79.6%.
GCSE Mathematics outcomes have risen to 66.4% of entries achieving grades1 A*- C, returning performance to 2015 levels (66.6%).
Entries in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related subjects grew by 0.5%.
They account for almost one-third (32.2%) of all GCSE entries here.
The growth in STEM entries is being driven by growth in subjects such as Computing (+21.4 %) and Physics (+2.5%). There were decreases in the percentage of the overall entry taking Biology (-4.1%) and Chemistry (-4.0%).
Due to the powersharing crisis at Stormont there is no education minister in post to congratulate the students.
That task was left to a spokesman for the Department of Education.
"We want to congratulate all those getting exam results and moving on to the next stage of their education, whether in school, college, university or in the workplace," he said.
"Performance of local students in school examinations - A-levels, GCSEs, and their equivalents - remains strong and is a tribute to the efforts of students, teachers, parents and carers.
"These results can be relied upon by colleges and universities, by trainers and employers, as confirmation of the attainment of our young people. It is also important that we continue to work to increase the number of young people getting a good, sound, general education as reflected in their GCSE grades.
"Whilst the focus at this time is on results, it is also important to remember that education is about so much more than exams.
"The calibre of our young people, their personal qualities and attributes, are not to be summed up just by their exam results. Working with pre-schools, schools and colleges during their time in education, our young people have fostered skills, knowledge and understanding, some of which are demonstrated through exam results, but others are only evident as they go through life.
"We look forward to seeing their progress through formal education, increasing their contribution to the community and the workplace."
Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire tweeted: "Good luck to everyone receiving GCSE results this morning. Hope all the hard work has been rewarded."
UK WIDE KEY FIGURES IN GCSE RESULTS: