Figures released today by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) show that Northern Ireland pupils continue to perform well at GCSE.
This year 8.9% of entries in Northern Ireland achieved the top A* grade, compared to 8.5% in 2011. There was also a small rise at A* - C with 75.6% of entries achieving these grades, up 0.8 percentage points on last year.
GCSE entry figures in Northern Ireland continue to fall. Entries dropped from 178,017 in 2011, to 171,354 in 2012 – a fall of 3.7%. This is the 5th year in a row that entries in Northern Ireland have fallen. Over the same period the Year 12 group in local schools has decreased by almost 2,500 pupils.
Girls continue to outperform boys across the top grades, at A* by 3.8%, at A* - A by 9.4%, and at A* - C by 7.3%.
Strong performance in the sciences, maths and technology (STEM)
There were strong performances in the individual sciences. The percentage of entries achieving A* - C in Chemistry was 93.6% (93.3% in 2011), in Physics 93.7% (92.6% in 2011), and in Biology 90.0% (91.4% in 2011).
Entries in Biology and Chemistry remained steady. Physics saw a fall of 2.8% in entries from 2,966 in 2011, to 2,884 in 2012.
In Mathematics and Design and Technology there were also rises in the number of entries gaining top grades. In Mathematics 62.9% of entries achieved grades A* - C (60.9% in 2011). In Design and Technology performance at A* – C rose to 73.9% (71.3% in 2011).
Top grades rise in English
There has been a small rise in the percentage of English entries achieving the top grades, with 4.2% gaining A* (3.8% in 2011) and 19.7% achieving A* - A (18.6% in 2011). A* - C was awarded to 68.2% of entries a slight decrease from the 2011 figure.
Fall in modern languages entries.
After the gains made in 2011, 2012 has seen a drop in entries for most modern language subjects. French, Irish and Spanish have all seen a fall in entry figures. In contrast entries for German have risen by 6.2% to 1,138.
The most popular language remains French with 6,402 entries.
Science dominates Double Award entries
Entries for GCSE Double Award are down by 2.9%, withentries dropping from 8,200 in 2011 to 7,965 in 2012. The most popular double award in Northern Ireland was Double Award Science with 93.8% of the overall double award entries.
Speaking on behalf of JCQ in Northern Ireland, Anne Marie Duffy, Director of Qualifications at CCEA, commented:
"This is an excellent performance. It reflects a tremendous amount of hard work and effort on the part of students and teachers across Northern Ireland.We wish all students every success in their future career pathways!"
Gains for STEM and Modern Languages
The results also show an upward trend for entries in the key ‘STEM’ subjects of Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Technology. There is also good news in the area of modern languages, with entries for French, Spanish and German all on the rise.
But the biggest winners this year have been Psychology, with a 25% rise in entries and Drama up by 16%.
Gender gap maintained
Once again the results show females have achieved higher grades than their male counterparts.
34.2% of females achieved A*-A this year in Northern Ireland compared to 29.1% of males.
The statistics below represent the provisional Northern Ireland GCSE results from five JCQ awarding organisations: - AQA, CCEA, Edexcel, OCR and WJEC
Northern Ireland GCSE entries and provisional results
|%A* - G||99.0||98.7|
Northern Ireland GCSE provisional results by gender
|%A* - A||23.2||23.3||32.6||31.9|
|%A* - C||72.0||71.3||79.3||78.1|
|%A* - G||98.9||98.4||99.2||
The Joint Council for Qualifications
The JCQ was established in 2004 and superseded the Joint Council for General Qualifications (JCGQ 1998-2003). The JCQ is a membership organisation and enables member awarding bodies to act together in providing, where possible, common administrative arrangements for the schools and colleges and other providers which offer their qualifications; and responding to proposals and initiatives in assessment and the curriculum.
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