Tattoo art and diplomacy on the agenda after A-Level success

Rex Tinsley, Max McDermott and John Gildea with their A level results at Campbell College in Belfast.
Rex Tinsley, Max McDermott and John Gildea with their A level results at Campbell College in Belfast.
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An aspiring tattoo artist and a budding post-Brexit diplomat were among pupils celebrating A-level success as the proportion of top grades rose in Northern Ireland.

Those awarded an A* increased by 0.6 percentage points from last year. Almost a tenth received the top mark, with the rise mainly driven by better performance from girls.

Thousands of students learned their results on Thursday morning.

Lauren Verner, 18, from Abbey Community College near Belfast received an A*, B and C and will study fine arts at Ulster University. She dreams of being a tattoo artist.

She said: "It is interesting the experience of someone getting living art on them, I have quite a few of my own and I just love the experience of it."

At Campbell College in East Belfast, Rex Tinsley achieved three As in maths, physics and chemistry and will study chemical engineering at the University of Edinburgh, with a view to working in the renewable power industry.

His dad is a construction worker in Bahrain in the Middle East and he boarded at Campbell for five years.

Fellow Campbell pupil John Gildea, 18, from Dundonald in East Belfast, earned an A* in German and two As in French and history.

He is going to St Andrews University in Scotland to study French and German with international relations and wants to work in overseas diplomacy.

"It is pretty helpful in our current situation, with Brexit and all that."

Ellen Donaghy, from Our Lady and St Patrick's College in Knock in East Belfast, will be studying law at Queen's and hopes to concentrate on human rights.

She received three A*s in politics, religious education and sociology.

"I definitely put in a lot of work but at the end of the day you have a little voice in the back of your head saying, 'well what if this did not go so well'?

"It gnaws away at you during the summer."

Tyler Crooks, 18, earned two merits, equivalent to A-level B grade, and a D in ICT, public services and art at Abbey Community College in Newtownabbey and wants to establish his own website-hosting business.

Entries for A-level decreased by 2.3%, broadly in line with the drop in the size of the school age population.

Maths was the most popular A-level, with one in 10 studying the subject.

Participation in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths) and languages (French, German, Irish and Spanish) declined slightly, by half a percentage point or less.

The proportion of girls taking Stem subjects rose slightly.

Justin Edwards, chief executive of the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) in Northern Ireland, said pupils had performed well.

He added: "The proportion of students taking Stem subjects and languages has decreased slightly, however Stem subjects continue to account for over one-third of A-level entries in Northern Ireland."

Around 28,000 students received A-level and AS-level results. Many learned them online but others attended their schools.

Maths was the most popular A-level subject for boys and biology for girls. Business studies was in the top five for both genders.

A total of 8.8% of entries received an A* overall.

Girls outperformed boys at A* by 0.9 percentage points and by 3.2 points at grade A.

Overall, the school population declined by 2.6% at A-level.

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