Congratulations to GCSE students across Northern Ireland

Date published: 12 August 2021

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has congratulated GCSE students across Northern Ireland who received their results today.

The percentage of students receiving the very highest grades continued to increase, with 39.9% of GCSE entries awarded Grades A and above, a 3.6 percentage point increase on previous outcomes. The percentage of students achieving Grades C and above was very similar to 2020: with over 89% of students being awarded these grades.

Minister McIlveen said: “I wish to congratulate all of the young people who have received their GCSE results today.  They have worked incredibly hard to achieve success in their studies and this has been reflected in the grades they have deservedly achieved today,

“No other cohort of students have experienced a situation where they been out of the classroom for a sustained period of time, not just once, but twice. Despite two years of disrupted learning, our young people have shown immense determination, resilience and tenacity in their studies.

“I also wish to pay tribute to teachers across Northern Ireland who have been at the heart of students’ education throughout this important year. Without their enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment, today’s successes would not have been possible.”

Following the cancellation of exams in January, the Department and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) worked with school leaders, trade unions, employing authorities and the Education and Training Inspectorate to  put in place alternative awarding arrangements to ensure that students could progress onto the next stage of their journey, be it further education, employment or training.

To support schools and colleges in Northern Ireland, CCEA provided extensive guidance and training and external quality assurance ensured grades were determined appropriately.

Concluding the Minister said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all  school staff, parents, governors and young people for their hard work, dedication, efforts and support during the current pandemic. 

“Congratulations to all our students and my very best wishes to them for the future. I would encourage young people to remain in education or training post-16, following a course in a setting that best meets their needs and aspirations.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has set up a dedicated results helpline which offers advice and guidance for students who are expecting their 2021 result. The helpline will be in operation from 9am until 5pm, starting Tuesday 10 August to Friday 20 August 2021 Anyone with queries regarding CCEA’s results can call 028 9026 1220, email, or visit the CCEA website Results Day 2021 to access answers from the Frequently Asked Questions section.
  2. Students’ grades were based on their school or college’s professional assessment of the evidenced standard at which the student was performing in the content they covered.  The approach allowed for a high degree of flexibility for schools and colleges to take account of the varying levels of disruption experienced by students.
  3. Follow us on Twitter @Education_ni(external link opens in a new window / tab)
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.


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