Northern Ireland news

Top GCSE grades in Northern Ireland fall with return of formal examinations

The provisional figures released today show that in Northern Ireland 37% of students received a grade A/7 and above
David Young, PA

The percentage of top GCSE grades in Northern Ireland has fallen in the first year since formal examinations returned post-pandemic.

While results are down compared to teacher-assessed grades issued during the Covid-19 crisis, they are up on pre-pandemic levels.

The GCSEs completed in 2022 were different to those sat in 2019, with the overall assessment burden reduced to reflect the disruption to students’ learning caused by the coronavirus emergency.

The provisional figures released today show that in Northern Ireland 37% of students received a grade A/7 and above.

In 2021, almost 40% of students received the top marks in the teacher-assessment model. When exams were last sat in 2019, the percentage receiving top grades was 30.5%.

Ninety percent of students received grade C/4 and above. This was largely similar to 2020 and 2021, but up significantly from the 82.2% recorded in 2019.

The results for just under 30,000 students who took GCSE exams in Northern Ireland in 2022 were published by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen praised the hard work and resilience of students.

“Congratulations to all our young people across Northern Ireland who have received GCSE results today,” she said.

“The outcomes are extremely positive, with 90% of students achieving grades A* to C. The success of our students is well-deserved and testament to their hard work and resilience following three years of disrupted learning. They should be rightly proud of their achievements.

“It is also important to recognise the incredible work of teachers across Northern Ireland in helping students prepare for examinations in a challenging learning environment.

“I wish to thank them for all they have done, as well as the families of students who have supported these young people throughout this important year.”

A number of principals praised the resilience of pupils who sat the exams following disruption caused by the pandemic.

Stephen Thompson, acting principal of Sullivan Upper School in Holywood, Co Down, said his pupils had recorded a "fantastic set of results".

He said: "It has gone really well, we are absolutely delighted.

"The headline figure always masks all the individual successes that the pupils have and that is the most important thing.

"Especially with the last few years that they have had, it has been difficult for them but everyone has worked hard."

Deborah McLaughlin, principal at Our Lady and St Patrick's College in east Belfast, said all of their pupils had achieved at least seven A* grades.

She added: "They have performed exceptionally well, given the difficult circumstances that they've had over the past number of years.

"The vast majority of our students haven't sat that many exams.

"These exams this year were exceptionally high stake for them. Therefore, they had to make sure that they were very much on the ball."

Maria Flynn, the principal at St Columbanus' College in Bangor, said she was proud of all of her pupils.

She said: "It has been an amazing morning for the pupils.

"The results have been outstanding for all pupils and they deserve it for the last couple of years that they have been through."