GCSE results – continued strong performance by Northern Ireland students

GCSE results data released this morning by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) shows Northern Ireland pupils continue to perform well in GCSE examinations.

The popularity of GCSEs has also increased with entries rising from 171,354 in 2012 to 176,301 this year. While the proportion of entries awarded the top A* grade has fallen slightly, 8.7% this year compared to 8.9% in 2012, the proportion of entries awarded A* - C grades has risen from 75.6% last year to 76.5% in 2013.

Notable performances in English, maths and sciences

The proportion of English and mathematics entries awarded A* to C grades this year has risen. English is up 0.6 percentage points to 68.8% and mathematics has risen from 62.9% in 2012 to 64.6% this year.

The individual sciences have also seen strong performances in 2013. The proportion of entries awarded A* - C in biology sits at 91.2% (90.0% in 2012), 93.4% in chemistry (93.6% in 2012) and 94.7% in physics (93.7% in 2012).

Girls increase the performance gap

Girls continue to outperform boys across the grades, and this year the gap has widened. At A* the proportion of grades awarded to girls was unchanged at 10.8%. The equivalent figure for boys dropped from 7.0% last year to 6.6% this year. While the proportion of entries from boys achieving A* - C has risen from 72.0% in 2012 to 72.6% this year, girls increased the gap in performance with 80.3% of entries gaining C or above in 2013, compared to 79.3% last year.

STEM and humanities subjects show increased popularity

As at GCE level, Northern Ireland GCSE pupils are taking STEM subjects in increasing numbers. There have been rises in entries in biology, chemistry, physics, design and technology, engineering, ICT, mathematics and additional mathematics.

Humanities subjects are also on the rise, with more grades awarded this year in English literature, history and geography.

In modern languages, Spanish and Irish have again seen rises in entries, while the downward trend for French and German continues. French however still attracts the highest modern language subject entries in Northern Ireland, with 6,250 grades awarded this year.

Commenting on the results, CCEA Director of Qualifications, Anne Marie Duffy said:

"Congratulations to all students on an excellent set of results. It’s very pleasing to see an increase in performance at A* - C across English and mathematics, subjects that provide access to a wide range of courses and routes to employment. The STEM subjects continue to attract increased entries and to show a strong performance in terms of grades awarded.

For the first time since 2007 we’ve seen an upturn in the number of GCSE entries in Northern Ireland. This is broadly in line with a rise in this year’s Year 12 school population and is evidence of the continued value placed on GCSE qualifications."

Additional Information

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

  2013 2012
Entries 176,301 171,354
%A* 8.7 8.9
%A*-A 28.0 27.9
%A*-C 76.5 75.6
%A* - G 99.2 99.0

Northern Ireland GCSE provisional results by gender

2013 Provisional Boys Girls
  2013 2012 2013 2012
%A* 6.6 7.0 10.8 10.8
%A* - A 23.0 23.2 32.7 32.6
%A* - C 72.6 72.0 80.3 79.3
%A* - G 99.0 98.9 99.3 99.2
  1. Detailed tabulations of the GCSE Full Course, GCSE Short Course, GCSE Double Award, Entry Level Certification, Level 1 and Level 2 Project are published separately, with the STRICT EMBARGO OF 09.30 HOURS THURSDAY 23 AUGUST 2013 and will be available on the JCQ website from 0930 on 23 August – www.jcq.org.uk
  2. These results are for qualifications taken by students across the UK but predominantly in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
  3. The JCQ comprises AQA, CCEA, City & Guilds, Edexcel, OCR, SQA and WJEC – the seven largest providers of qualifications in the UK.
  4. 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.

The JCQ’s press office can be contacted on: 020 7227 0671/020 7638 4132/07905 683 816

Note to Editors

Media enquiries to Ruth Hobson on (028) 9026 1200 ext. 2216, Mobile 07718 424 373 , Email rhobson@ccea.org.uk