Northern Ireland

Educational attainment at age 16

Key points

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Graph 1: Over time

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Graph 2: By free school meals

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Definitions and data sources

All the data in both graphs includes vocational equivalents in the various GCSE thresholds.  The data excludes special and indepndent schools.

The first graph shows the proportion of school leavers failing to obtain five or more GCSEs at grade C or above.  The data is split between those who obtain no GCSE grades at all (either because they do not enter for exams or achieve no passes), those who do obtain some GCSEs but less than five, and those who obtain 5 or more GCSEs but less than 5 at grade C or above.

The second graph shows the proportion of school leavers failing to obtain 5 or more GCSEs of any grade, with the data shown separately for pupils entitled to free school meals and for pupils in total.  Since entitlement to free school meals is essentially restricted to families in receipt of out-of-work benefits, this should be thought of as a proxy for worklessness rather than low income.

The data source for both graphs is the Northern Ireland School Leavers Survey via the publication entitled Qualifications and destinations of Northern Ireland school leavers.  Note that the data prior to 2004/05 was obtained via the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister's report entitled Update of indicators of social need for Northern Ireland 2005.  Also note that data is not available for 2002/03 and the figures in the graphs for this year are therefore the average for the previous and following year.

Overall adequacy of the indicator: medium.  While the data itself is sound enough, the choice of the particular levels of exam success is a matter of judgement.

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