Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Five schools share the top spot in GCSE league table results

Today, we publish our annual guide on the GCSE performance of every post-primary school here that undertakes the examinations (stock photo)
Today, we publish our annual guide on the GCSE performance of every post-primary school here that undertakes the examinations (stock photo)
Carol McCann, St Dominic’s, Belfast
Tom Skelton, Dalriada
Grainne O’Hanlon, Loreto, Omagh
Mark McCullough, Rainey Endowed
Victoria Leonard

By Victoria Leonard

Five Northern Ireland schools saw 100% of their Year 12 pupils achieve five or more GCSEs at grades A*-C, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Today, we publish our annual guide on the GCSE performance of every post-primary school here that undertakes the examinations. The results relate to the 2017/18 academic year and include the core GCSE subjects, English and maths.

GCSE school league table - check out the full list here

The five schools in joint first place are Loreto Grammar School in Omagh, Lumen Christi College in Londonderry, Dalriada School in Ballymoney, Rainey Endowed School in Magherafelt and Friends' School Lisburn.

In joint sixth place are Our Lady and St Patrick's College Belfast, Wallace High School, Lisburn, and St Dominic's High School Belfast.

In joint ninth place are St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, and Dominican College, Belfast.

In 11th place is Assumption Grammar School, Ballynahinch.

Four of the top 11 schools are all-girl grammars, while the rest are co-educational grammars.

Grammar schools claimed the top 59 places in the league table.

The top-performing non-grammar school was Castlederg High School, which ranked 60th in this year's table with 85.4% of pupils achieving five or more top GCSE grades. It was followed by St Kevin's College in Enniskillen in 61st place with 84.9%, and, both in joint 62nd place, St Catherine's College in Armagh and St Michael's College in Enniskillen with 84.4%.

Dalriada School headmaster Tom Skelton said he was "absolutely delighted" with the results.

"It's a fantastic achievement for the staff and pupils involved," he said. "To take every child over the line with 100% five A*-C represents a lot of hard work and the support of parents as well.

"Two years ago we were 100% as well, so we're delighted to get up there again. I think it reflects well on the school, the pupils and the standards set by staff."

Mr Skelton said the league table "shows the success of the grammar school system" and he added: "Pastoral care is a massive part of it. We have a very simple saying, 'Happy pupils, high expectation, high achievement' and that's it in a nutshell.

"The school is well led by a supportive board of governors."

Principal of Loreto Grammar, Omagh, Grainne O'Hanlon, said she was "delighted" at its joint top ranking, the first time it has topped the league table.

"It is the result of the professional relationship and trust which the teachers establish with the pupils," she said. "There's a strong, supportive pastoral Special Educational Needs and safe environment surrounding the pupils and that's fully endorsed by the parents.

"It's the overriding belief that our young girls are creative, talented and able, and with a lot of self belief and hard work they can achieve."

Lumen Christi College principal Siobhan McCauley said her school's academic success is largely due to "the excellent relationships that exist between students and staff".

She added: "The strong support of parents coupled with the hard work and dedication of the staff enables our students, who are well-motivated and enthusiastic, to perform at the highest level and thus achieve outstanding exam results."

Principal of Rainey Endowed Mark McCullough said the results were enabled by a "three-way partnership between the school, parents and pupils".

"It's a great accolade - we just work and do the best for them that we can," he said.

"I'm absolutely delighted and would like to thank everybody for all their hard work."

Principal of St Dominic's in Belfast Carol McCann said that 70% of all GCSE grades achieved in her school were A*/A.

"Our performance at GCSE is the highest it has ever been in the A*/A grades," she said. "We are very proud of the achievement, which is down to the hard work of the pupils, staff and parents, who have worked together."

Our Lady and St Patrick's College principal Deborah McLaughlin said her school's joint sixth position was "testament to the positive attitude of our students, who are supported by our committed staff and our parent body".

"We're very much a team," she said. "It is a balance between academic and extracurricular activities for students."

Principal of St Louis Grammar School in Ballymena Sean Rafferty paid tribute to the work of pupils, staff and teachers.

"I would like to congratulate the pupils, teachers and parents for their magnificent effort. It's about hard work and dedication," he said of its joint ninth place.

Principal of Castlederg High School Elaine McKelvey said she was "delighted" it was the highest-ranking non-grammar school in the league table.

"These results are testimony to the excellent provision for learning made at Castlederg High School by a highly dedicated staff, working in partnership with very supportive parents to ensure the best possible outcome for each young person," she said.

Mrs McKelvey paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of staff during "a most challenging period for educational delivery within all schools in Northern Ireland, given the shortfall in capital funding and inequitable remuneration for teaching staff".

"Most of all though, we are tremendously proud of our pupils and their achievements, noting the breadth of opportunity for the future that such excellent exam results have created for them," she added.

The Department of Education said the information contained in the league table relating to GCSE results "does not provide a valid basis for comparing performance between schools, since it takes no account of intakes of the schools or of any other factors that may affect pupil performance".

It added: "No single measurement can constitute a fair or accurate evaluation of a school, and the figures should be considered in the context of other information about schools and their pupils."

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