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17 September 2014

Question Time - Education Tuesday 16 September 2014



Question Time for the Education Minister sated with a series of question regarding GCSE and A-level Results. The Minister stated that “ there continues to be a very strong performance by pupils here at GCSE and A level, and it is important that we celebrate and acknowledge their achievements across the North.  We should not forget the teachers and parents who supported them to reach this stage in their education.

GCSE performance was the highest since Joint Council for Qualifications figures first became available in 2002.  There was a 0·2 percentage point increase at A* from 8·7% to 8·9%.  There was also a 0·2 percentage point increase to 28·2% in Grades A* and A.   Grades A* to C increased by 1·5 percentage points to 78·0%

In A-level performance, 83·7% of entries here achieved grades A* to C, which is a 0·2 percentage point increase on last year.  The overall pass rate remained much the same as last year, with 98·1% of grades awarded at A* to E.  Of those, 7·3% of grades were awarded at A*.  The previous figure was 7·2%.

One of my priorities as Education Minister continues to be raising standards.  These results are very encouraging, but we cannot become complacent.  There remain unacceptable achievement gaps at all levels in our system, and I intend to do all that I can to tackle that”.

Schools: Religious Impact

Paul Givan called on the education minister to apologise for "the insult" he made to the Protestant churches during a newspaper interview.

Mr Givan said the Minister  said the churches should "step up to the mark around their social responsibilities in education".

The minister said he had "in no way insulted the Protestant churches".

Mr O'Dowd said he challenged the Protestant churches, trade unions and civic society to "take up the mantle of challenging academic selection and the ails it brings to our education system and to our society".

Other topics the Minister had to answer questions on during Oral Question Time were, Welfare Reform: Education Budget, Shared Education in Limavady and east Antrim and the proposed new capital builds for Priory College Hollywood Primary School.