A level results: More passes but fewer top grades in NI

Lagan College, Belfast pupils Stephen Hamley (A*, A,A,A) and Jacinta Hamley (A*, A, A)
Lagan College, Belfast pupils Stephen Hamley (A*, A,A,A) and Jacinta Hamley (A*, A, A)

Around 12,000 students have received their A level results in Northern Ireland after sitting a total of 32,390 exams.

News of the grades achieved came amid jubilant scenes in schools across the Province as pupils celebrated A level success.

Callum Canavan, 18, from Lumen Christie College in Londonderry, who was the top performing student in Northern Ireland

Callum Canavan, 18, from Lumen Christie College in Londonderry, who was the top performing student in Northern Ireland

Even though students could access results online, many opted for the old-fashioned method of opening brown envelopes alongside excited friends and coming into school to see their peers. Those who performed less well opted to deal with their disappointment out of the spotlight.

Statistics from the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQCIC) have revealed that Northern Ireland’s students achieved a lower percentage of A to A* grades compared to 2014, but the overall pass rate has risen.

Students in the Province also outperformed their counterparts in England and Wales.

A spokesman from CCEA said the majority of entries to A level exams – around 17,976 – were from female students,

Grant McCullough (A* and 2Bs) with his mother Lynda at Ballyclare High School

Grant McCullough (A* and 2Bs) with his mother Lynda at Ballyclare High School

Maths is the most popular A level in Northern Ireland, accounting for one in 10 of the entries this year, an increase of 8.6 per cent according to the JCQ.

Also according to the umbrella body more females took science, technology, engineering and mathematics (stem) in response to calls from industry for more skilled employees.

Overall, entries were up by 2.5 per cent with standards broadly maintained.

Some 29.3 per cent of students achieved A or A* grades compared to last year’s 29.9 per cent. And the overall pass rate increased by 0.1 per cent, with 98.2 per cent of students achieving grades A* to E.

Nigel Smyth, director of CBI Northern Ireland, said: “To build a balanced, modern economy we need a workforce that can exploit new technologies and drive forward our high value, high growth sectors, so a rise in the number of stem students is excellent news for the economy.”

Stormont Education Minister John O’Dowd said: “Stem subjects are the foundation of the modern workplace and economy.

“It is very good news for young people individually and for society and the economy that maths is the most popular.”

Among those celebrating was the top performing student in the country who achieved five A* at A level.

Callum Canavan, 18, from Lumen Christie College in Londonderry, is now hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of Northern Ireland’s most famous physicists John Bell.

He is now set to study natural sciences at Cambridge after receiving his grades in physics, biology, chemistry, maths and further maths.

The talented teenager said he was interested in quantum mechanics, the study of very small objects which became the subject of Belfast scientist John Bell’s Theorem. Mr Canavan said he was delighted.

“It was a lot of work, particularly for biology, there were a lot of things to remember,” he said.