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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
NI GCSE grades improve slightly
Students are being encouraged to stay on in full time education
The first batch of this year's GCSE results are being revealed to thousands of students in Northern Ireland.

Grades from exams set by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, are being delivered on Tuesday.

The second set, from the English boards used by some schools for some subjects, will not arrive until Thursday.

The grades have improved slightly with just over 7% of papers awarded a grade A*.

This is the first year of results for the new vocational GCSE and almost 50% scored enough for one of the top three grades.

It reflects the very strong effort that people put into education and the esteem that education has in the community
Alastair Walker
For the first time in Northern Ireland, 16-year-olds from low income families will have an added incentive to stay on in full time education.

If they decide to attend academic or vocational courses at either college or school, they could get up to 30 a week and if they complete the course well, they will get a series of 100 bonuses.

The scheme was trialled in England where it increased the number of pupils staying in education and improved attendance levels.

Alastair Walker, the head of education services with the CCEA examination body, said the good results were a reflection of teaching standards in Northern Ireland.

"Though the results for the national figures don't come through until later in the week, we can confidently expect the results here will be better this year again," he said.

"It has been the same pattern for a long time and I think it reflects the very high quality of teaching in Northern Ireland.

"It reflects the very strong effort that people put into education and the esteem that education has in the community."

BBC NI education correspondent Maggie Taggart
"The grades have improved slightly"

Pupil 'payments' for further study
20 Jan 04  |  Northern Ireland

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