South Armagh high schools rank in top twenty for GCSE exam performance

January 21, 2019

Three south Armagh high schools have ranked in the top twenty of the Irish News non-grammar schools performance list for the highest percentage of pupils achieving five or more GCSE’s at grades A* to C. The list features the top 50 non-grammars across the north, ranked by exam performance at GCSE.

Both St. Paul’s High School Bessbrook and St. Joseph’s Crossmaglen appeared in the top 10, with St Paul’s placed seventh on the league table with  74.2% of pupils passing 5 or more  GCSE’s with an A* to C grade, whilst St. Joseph’s placed tenth on the table with a 72% pass rate. Newtownhamilton High School came in fourteenth with 69.2%

Local councillors have heaped praise on the impressive results for the area’s schools. SDLP Slieve Gullion Councillor Pete Byrne said the results had been achieved “through the hard work and determination of pupils supported by the excellent teaching skills of staff.” 

Mr Byrne paid particular tribute to St. Joseph’s High School which he said “is showing that it can compete with some of the best schools across the North and this is a credit to the staff, pupils and governors.”

“The school is now entering a new era after planners gave the go ahead for a new school building early last year, this will only help to improve the standard of education in the years to come,” added Mr Byrne.

Fellow Slieve Gullion councillor, Kate Loughran congratulated the staff and pupils at St. Paul’s and Newtownhamilton High on their continued success and added,

“We are incredibly grateful to the staff who too often don’t get the recognition and praise they deserve for supporting our children’s aspirations.”

Ms Loughran said schools in the district are some of the hardest hit when it comes to austerity and the current political climate. 

“Education is the passport to our children’s future and I am certainly thankful for the dedicated staff in all our schools throughout South Armagh.”

Meanwhile, a Keady school that topped the non-grammar league tables twice in four years has fallen in rankings following the release of its first results since a probe into cheating.

An independent investigation into GCSE English and Maths examinations taken by pupils of St Patrick’s High School in Keady in summer 2017 uncovered malpractice involving a number of staff members. 

Having previously topped the tables back in 2013/14 with an 80% pass rate at A*-C grades and again achieving first place in 2016/17 with a massive 91.3 %, the school has plummeted down the ranks after the first series of exams taken following the investigation – with a pass rate of 65.2 per cent.

The Irish News also published its performance list for grammar school A-level performance across the north last week, with Newry grammar schools St. Colman’s and Sacred Heart once again appearing on the top 50 list, ranking eleventh and twenty-first successively.