Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Boys score historic first at A-level

Thousands of students across the district celebrated A- Level success over the weekend, and this year more boys than girls were celebrating A* achievement – a history-making first for male students.

Newry and Mourne’s A-Level pupils joined 30,000 across the north who received their A-level and AS results on Thursday morning.  Boys proved to be this year’s star students as they overtook girls in the top A-level grade by 0.4%, marking the first time males have outperformed females since the grade was awarded in 2010.

The performance gap between females and males also narrowed at the A* – A grades, following concerted efforts to address the disparity by education authorities.

Whilst figures released on behalf of the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQCIC) show a stable performance from NI A-Level students across all grades, there was a small increase in those awarded the top grade, with just under a tenth earning an A*.

The top five subject choices remained the same, with Mathematics continuing to be the most popular, closely followed by Biology, Religious Studies, English Literature and History. This year boys preferred Business Studies, replacing ICT in popularity with males, with Geography replacing history for girls.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects – which make up one third of entries – continued to increase in popularity, with the overall proportion of STEM entries, up from 39.7% to 40.1%.  Numbers taking languages decreased slightly while music and performing arts saw an increase and a new life and health sciences qualification proved popular, particularly with girls. Computing subjects also saw a rise in entries.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, congratulated A-Level students on “a steady and strong performance across all grades” and he said the results “are also recognition of the dedication and support provided by teachers and schools.”

Principal of St.Paul’s High School in Bessbrook, which enjoyed another excellent year of achievement at A-Level, congratulated all his students.  The proud principal praised the work ethic of the year group and said it was his “privilege to have been part of their development from children to adults.”

Mr Burns also paid tribute to commitment of the students’ parents and families, “in raising such well adjusted and focused young people.”

“I wish them well as they pursue the next stage of their lives,” he added.

“I know I and the rest of the staff will particularly miss this year group because they represented all that is good about St.Paul’s.”

This Thursday is the turn of GCSE students to receive their results.