Northern Ireland

NI bucks UK trend with improving GCSEs

Grosvenor Grammar students Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Girls have continued to outperform boys, with the gap widening by 0.5% since last year

GCSE results for pupils in Northern Ireland have improved again, with one in 10 entries being awarded an A*.

Overall in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, passes (grades C/4 and above) dropped 0.6 percentage points to 66.3%.

About 30,000 pupils in Northern Ireland received their results on Thursday morning and the number of A* to C grades awarded increased by 0.4% to 79.5%.

There were also improvements across GCSE English and Maths results.

Girls have continued to outperform boys, with the gap widening by 0.5% since last year.

While 75.4% of entries from boys achieved A* to C grades, slightly up from last year, 83.5% of entries from girls attracted those grades.

Image caption Girls continue to outperform boys

For the first time, a small number of pupils in Northern Ireland received some grades as numbers in 9-1 form rather than A*-G grades.

That is due to changes to GCSE grading being introduced by English exam boards.

The proportion of entries in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) grew again in 2017, meaning they now make up almost exactly a third of all GCSEs taken.

There were significant rises in the number of students taking GCSEs in computing and physics.

Many of those getting their results will go on to further study in their schools or in FE colleges.

Image caption These Ballyclare High School students are among 30,000 receiving their GCSE results on Thursday

However, a significant number of pupils, especially from disadvantaged areas, will still leave school with few qualifications.

National Union of Students Northern Ireland (NUS-USI) President Olivia Potter-Hughes urged those who failed to get the results they wanted not to worry as there would still be "excellent educational opportunities" for them.

"There are other excellent routes that people can take aside from A-Levels and university," she said.

"People can study in further education institutions in vocational or other courses or in apprenticeship. All of these options open up significant career opportunities and may be a better route than A-levels for many people."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Many pupils will go on to further education

BBC Northern Ireland will be hosting a special Facebook Live for students and their parents later on results day.

Hosted on BBC Northern Ireland's Facebook page, experts will be on hand to answer questions from 14:30 BST.

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