Education news

Boys out-perform girls at A* for first time

BOYS have outperformed girls at the top A-level grade for the first time since it was introduced in Northern Ireland.

They overtook girls by 0.4 per cent at the A* grade, which was first awarded in 2010.

The performance gap between the genders also narrowed at the A*-A grade boundary, and it follows concerted efforts to address the disparity by education authorities.

There was a small increase in those awarded the top grade, with just under a tenth earning an A*.

Around 30,000 pupils received their A-level and AS results on Thursday morning.

The number of A-level entries declined this year by 5.8 per cent, in line with demographics.

For the third year in a row, mathematics was the most popular subject, with one in 10 studying it, closely followed by biology, religious studies, English literature and history.

More than a third of entries involved science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects. There was a small increase in the overall proportion of Stem entries, up to 40.1 per cent this year.

The proportion taking languages decreased slightly, mainly due to a fall in Spanish entries. Music and performing arts saw an increase.

A new life and health sciences qualification proved popular, particularly with girls. Computing subjects saw a rise in entries.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment said students had performed well, with a steady and strong performance across all grades.

"The results are also recognition of the dedication and support provided by teachers and schools.

"This year males achieved a higher percentage of A* grades. This is the first time males have performed better than females since the grade was introduced."

Northern Ireland pupils received exam results from various awarding bodies yesterday.

Grade boundaries for one exam board in England suggested students needed to get around 55 per cent of the answers right in their biology A-level in order to secure an A grade.

The pass mark required for the reformed OCR advanced Biology A-level was 54.8 per cent, the figures on its website showed.

Those wanting an A in the reformed maths exam would need to get 65.6 per cent of the answers right, and those who sat the English language A-level would be looking for 77 per cent of the marks in order to secure an A.

At AS-level, a slump in entries across the UK was not mirrored in Northern Ireland. Entries to sit AS-levels fell by almost 60 per cent on last year, provisional figures from Ofqual showed.

Northern Ireland schools continue to offer the AS-levels as part of the full A-level qualification. There was a 4 percent decline in AS-level entries in Northern Ireland in-line with demographics.

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