Northern Ireland third in GCSE results

Education Minister John O'Dowd and Employment and Learning Minister Dr Stephen Farry who congratulated St Genevieve's High School pupils Stephen Hare, Jacinta Hamley and David Beattie on their GCSE results.  Picture by Brian  Morrison. Northern Ireland is not the best performing region for GCSEs, according to official statistics analysed by agendaNi. Five passes at grades A*-C (including English and maths) is the standard measure of success.

Finalised statistics for 2013 show that this was attained by 60.9 per cent of pupils taking the exams in Northern Ireland. This was behind South East England (62.5 per cent) and London (65.1 per cent) based on figures published by the Department for Education at www.gov.uk.dfe

The province is regularly described as having the best results in the UK but a full four-nation comparison is not possible as Scotland has a separate system (standard grades). The North East and the East Midlands were the lowest performing English regions – both on 59.3 per cent – while Wales was lowest overall on 52.7 per cent.

London’s affluent suburbs have traditionally had a high performance. The London Challenge programme has increased GCSE pass rates from 40 per cent to 63 per cent in the inner city boroughs over the last decade. This involves assigning experienced advisers to schools who perform an audit and link them into a city-wide network of schools which can share best practice.

GCSEs are to be retained in England, Wales and Northern Ireland for the foreseeable future although England is moving towards a more linear route while the other jurisdictions are retaining modular courses.

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