Posted by: secretperson | August 14, 2008

A-level Results – Northern Ireland makes case for Grammar Schools

As we see yet another increase in A-level passes and the percentage of people getting top A grades, most talk is on whether exams are getting easier (I think that is obviously true) and how to differentiate top students with so many getting A. A new A* top grade will be introduced from next year, a simple reform to split the many A grade students further that has been advocated for years and I am surprised they haven’t done sooner.

But one interesting statistic, which happens every year, is Northern Irish students massively outperforming those in England and Wales. These are the same exams everywhere, yet in NI 35.4% get A grades compared to 25.6% in England and 24.1% in Wales (stats here). Maybe there are more complex reasons, but to me it seems that Northern Ireland retaining the grammar school system is the obvious difference.

Critics of the ‘elitist’ grammar school system believe it disadvantages children who don’t make grammar schools, so it’d be interesting to see a break down of the whole set of results. The overall pass rate is marginally higher, which at least suggests the most in danger of passing are not being left behind. It may also be that fewer students take the A-levels, so it is not obviously a good thing.

But I think with such a difference our politicians really have to consider this.

Update: Northern Irish politicians have voted to scrap selection, so it will be interesting to see if results fall (or if I’ll even remember to check in the seven years or so it may take children to work through the system).

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Responses

  1. Your politicians are corrupt; they will consider nothing that would increase the intelligence of the electorate to intuit their corruption.

  2. Northern Irish politicans did not vote to abolish selection, selection was abolished in the last Assembly by the then Education Minister Martin McGuiness. Polls taken since then conducted by BBCNI have found that the majority of people in NI want academic selction to remain in some form or another. Recently the issue has attracted much controversy, mainly down to the extreme actions of Caitriona Ruane an Education Minister vehemently opposed to Grammar Schools and the whole system. Interestingly enough Ms Ruane does not even live in NI and sends her son to a grammar school in Newry.


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