Top A Level Grades Rise Across NI

As thousands of pupils across Northern Ireland opened their A level results envelope this morning, it was revealed that the amount achieving the top grades has increased slightly.

A strong performance and small increases were reported across all grades, with a rise in the number of A* grades awarded, mainly due to a boost in female performances.

8.8% of entrants achieved an A*, a figure that is up 0.6% on last year. A*- A grades increased by 0.5% to 30.9%, while the A*-E pass rate remained stable with a 0.1% increase to 98.3%.

The rise in pupils achieving top grades was mainly driven by better female outcomes, according to the Joint Council for Qualifications. 2.3% less people actually entered to sit the exams, however this drop is broadly in line with the current school-age population.

Those choosing to undertake A levels in languages and Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) declined by half a percentage point or less, however Stem still accounts for over one-third of A level entries in the region.

Mathematics remained the most popular subject choice, with one in every ten students undertaking it for their GCE studies.

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), Justin Edwards said: "Congratulations to all those receiving their A Level results this morning. The results are a testament to the hard work and dedication shown by students over the past two years.

"Once again students in Northern Ireland have performed well. We are delighted for the students and all those that helped them achieve their results."
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Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald wished the young people receiving their results today every success for the milestone. The party's Further and Higher Education spokesperson said: "It is essential that they are given all the support and information required as they now face important decisions on whether they enter further education, training or employment. 

"I would urge all students who did not achieve the grades they wished for, or who are unsure of what to do next, to seek advice on the many options available to them. 

"There is an onus on education providers and careers advisers to ensure information and advice is given to all those receiving results, so they are empowered to make the choices which are right for them."

Commenting ahead of the publication of grades, Ulster Unionist Education Spokesperson Rosemary Barton MLA said that regardless of individual results, young people should remember there are many options open to them at this time in their life. 

A former teacher, Ms Barton said the day will be daunting for many young hopefuls following a long summer of waiting. She continued: "I expect our young people will continue to do us proud and that once again schools in Northern Ireland will be among some of the best performers right across the UK.

"Whilst not every student is going to receive the results they wished for, I urge them all to remain positive and to remember that there are many other options to succeed in life, rather than just getting the required grades for university.

"Not only do we have a brilliant network of further education colleges, we also have a large range of local companies offering apprenticeships which are very often an opening into reliable and rewarding careers."

The NI Direct website features a wealth of informative resources on the next available steps, including various apprenticeships and training options, staying on at school, student finance, student housing, taking a gap year and finding a job.


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