Qualifications and Destinations of Northern Ireland School Leavers 2015/16

Date published: 07 June 2017

The Department of Education has published data on the qualifications and destinations of school leavers for the 2015/16 year.

This statistical bulletin presents an analysis of the GCSE and A-level qualifications and destinations of pupils leaving post-primary schools in 2015/16.

Key Points

  • The proportion of school leavers achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A* - C or equivalent has increased by 8.5 percentage points from five years ago, from 73.2% in 2010/11 to 81.7% in 2015/16.
  • At 67.7%, the proportion of school leavers achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A* - C or equivalent including GCSE English and maths has increased by 1.7 percentage points since 2014/15 (66.0%) and by 8.2 percentage points since 2010/11 (59.5%).
  • The proportion of free school meal entitled school leavers achieving at least five GCSEs at grades A* - C or equivalent including GCSE English and maths increased by 3.5 percentage points from 41.3% in 2014/15 to 44.8% in 2015/16.
  • The proportion of school leavers achieving three or more A-levels at grades A* - C or equivalent was 38.4% in 2015/16, an increase of 2.8 percentage points from five years ago (35.6% in 2010/11).
  • The proportion of school leavers continuing on to Institutions of Higher Education has increased slightly to 42.9% in 2015/16.  Overall, 95.8% of school leavers were recorded by their school as entering Education, Employment or Training.

Notes to editors: 

1. National Statistics status means that official statistics meet the highest standards of trustworthiness, quality and public value.

All official statistics should comply with all aspects of the Code of Practice for Official Statistics. They are awarded National Statistics status following an assessment by the Authority’s regulatory arm. The Authority considers whether the statistics meet the highest standards of Code compliance, including the value they add to public decisions and debate.

It is a producer’s responsibility to maintain compliance with the standards expected of National Statistics. If we become concerned about whether these statistics are still meeting the appropriate standards, we will discuss any concerns with the Authority promptly. National Statistics status can be removed at any point when the highest standards are not maintained, and reinstated when standards are restored.

2. For general enquiries about National Statistics, contact the National Statistics Public Enquiry Service on 0845 601 3034

minicom: 01633 812399

E-mail: info@statistics.gov.uk

Fax: 01633 652747

Letters: Customer Contact Centre, Office for National Statistics, Rm 1.101, Government Buildings, Cardiff Road, Newport, NP10 8XG

3. You can also find National Statistics on the Gov.uk website.

School Leavers’ Survey

4. For more detail about the collection of school leavers statistics visit the DE website.

Special analysis of the school leavers’ survey can be produced on request.

5. Information presenting qualifications and destinations of school leavers in Wales, England, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland is not reported as policy differences between the regions make direct comparisons difficult.  Figures relating to these regions can be accessed at the links below:

6. A comparison of Northern Ireland pupils is available in an international context through the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).  PISA, organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) aims to compare standards of achievement for 15 year olds in reading, mathematics and science, between participating countries.  It takes place every 3 years.  2015 results were published in December 2016 and can be viewed on the DE website.

7. Further information on examination equivalencies can be obtained from the Ofqual website.

8. The numbers relating to qualifications are cumulative totals of the level detailed and those above.  For example 81.7% of school leavers achieved at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C inc. equivalents.  This proportion is calculated by adding those with a highest qualification of 3+ A-levels, 2 A-levels, 1 A-level & 5 GCSEs A*-C and dividing by the total number of school leavers.

9. Destinations are reported by the school leaver and recorded by the school.

10. Since 2012/13, two AS qualifications have not been counted as one A-level as in previous years.

11.  The school leaving cohort comprises of year 12, 13 and 14 pupils leaving mainstream grant aided post-primary schools.  As the school leavers data collection and validation process took place in the 2016/17 academic year, it was not possible to collect or validate information for a small number of pupils who left schools that had closed at the end of the 2015/16 academic year.  

12.  Further Information

Requests for further information should be addressed to:-

Amanda Lennon
Analytical Services Unit
Department of Education
Rathgael House
Balloo Road
BT19 7PR

Telephone:  (028) 9127 9215

Fax:  (028) 9127 9100

E-mail: amanda.lennon@education-ni.gov.uk

13. DE Statistical Bulletins can be accessed at the DE Internet site under the Statistics and research section.

14. Please send any feedback on the content or presentation of this publication to the E-mail address: amanda.lennon@education-ni.gov.uk

15.  Media enquires to the Department of Education’s Press Office on Tel: 028 9127 9207.  Out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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