Mixed fortunes for local schools in ‘league tables’

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THE release of the GCSE and A Level league tables in Northern Ireland has heralded mixed results for schools in the Banbridge area.

The GCSE league table is based on the percentage of pupils achieving 5+ GCSEs including English and maths at grades A to C and the A level league table is based on the percentage of pupils achieving 3+ A Levels at grades A* to C.

Banbridge Academy remained the highest ranked school in the area at both GCSE and A level with a GCSE pass rate of 98.9 percent, ranked 11th out of 211 schools regionally and an A level pass rate of 77.6 percent, ranked 35th out of 170 schools.

The Academy’s head, Mr Raymond Pollock, said he was “pleased for the pupils, parents and in particular the staff as their hard work has paid off.”

But he added a word of caution, saying, “I am conscious that league tables don’t tell the full story.”

Banbridge High and St Patrick’s College, the only other schools which offer GCSEs and A Levels both appeared further down the league tables.

Banbridge High was ranked 152nd at GCSE with a pass rate of 30.7 percent, a drop of nine places from the previous year. At A levels they were ranked 154th with a pass rate of 19.4 percent an increase of eight places from the previous year.

St Patrick’s College’s GCSE pass rate of 25 percent saw them dropping from 158th to 170th and their A level results saw them suffering the disappointment of being ranked amongst the bottom placed schools in Northern Ireland - although their figures were based on a very small number of pupils taking A Levels.

Anne Mallon, the principal of St Patrick’s College believes that the league tables only tell one side of the story.

She said, “Saint Patrick’s College is currently on a whole school improvement strategy. We have a huge focus on teaching and learning and on improving results.”

Dromore High School and Rathfriland High School both saw dramatic increases in their GCSE pass rates from the previous year with Rathfriland being ranked amongst the top five non-controlled non-grammar schools in Northern Ireland.

Dromore High’s pass rate of 50.3 percent ranked them 90th, an improvement of 36 places from the previous year and Rathfriland’s pass rate of 53.4 percent ranked them 85th an improvement of 52 places from the previous year.

Rathfriland principal Amanda McCullough was delighted with her school’s performance. She said, “The performance of the pupils in their GCSE examinations is testament to the hard work of the pupils and the staff and the support provided by parents to ensure pupils work to the best of their ability.”

New Bridge Integrated College in Loughbrickland dropped 47 places in the GCSE league table to 119th with a pass rate of 42.2 percent, however, the school found itself in the top five integrated schools in Northern Ireland.

A school spokesperson said: “As an all ability, non-selective school we are very proud of all our students’ achievements and we are delighted that our results for 3 A*-C grades at A Level are above the NI average for similar schools. We are delighted that our results indicate an upward trend and a further significant increase in 3 A*-C grades is expected for 2013.

“As part of the Integrated sector, we are also proud to see Ulidia Integrated College topping the league tables and I congratulate the Principal Mr Martin, staff and pupils on a very successful year.

“Our recent inspection reports acknowledged the achievement of our pupils at all levels - ‘The very effective provision of CEIAG, coupled with the equally effective pastoral and learning support, enables sixth form pupils to make informed choices regarding their career goals and progression pathways...’

“In relation to our GCSE results 5A*-C (including English and Maths) we remain above the NI Average for a non-selective school. Over 74% of our GCSE pupils achieved 5A*-C grades last year which is significantly higher than the NI average for similar schools. We continue to celebrate our students’ achievements and we are proud of our stance on providing good quality, all ability integrated education.

“In the areas inspected, the quality of education provided by the school is very good. The school is meeting very effectively the educational and pastoral needs of the pupils; and has demonstrated its capacity for sustained self improvement” (ETI Inspection Report 201).

“We are delighted to remain one of the top five integrated schools in Northern Ireland for GCSE results.”