ASCL NI comment on A-level and vocational qualification results

Robert Wilson, Regional Officer at ASCL Northern Ireland, comments on the publication of this year’s A-level and vocational qualification results in Northern Ireland.
“Congratulations to our young people on the A-level, AS-level and vocational qualification results they have received today. This has been another particularly challenging year for students and teachers alike and all have worked incredibly hard to prepare for this summer’s examinations.
“The proportion of students achieving the top A-level grades has fallen this year, but remains higher than in 2019. This is a result of the approach taken in Northern Ireland to adjust the grading system so that the distribution of grades is between that of 2019 and 2022, as part of a soft glide back to 2019 standards next year.
“I commend CCEA for the way it has managed the 2023 series. The advance information was helpful and the phased return to pre-Covid standards provided additional confidence for teachers and students. It is important to remember that this year’s students have suffered huge disruption to their education. They have shown great resilience but the impact of the pandemic is still being felt, including the challenges in accessing care and services for young people with mental health concerns. For these reasons, as well as the varying approaches to awarding grades across the UK, it is not possible to compare these results with those in other jurisdictions or with other years. Every student is unique and their outcomes have been achieved through a period of great challenge.
“With university places in Northern Ireland being capped, many of our school leavers will take up places in Great Britain. It must be a priority for government to enable the retention of home-grown talent which would subsequently contribute to an expansion of the high-skilled sectors of our local economy. There remain many other pathways available for school leavers, including work-based training programmes and apprenticeships. We would encourage anybody who is unsure of their next steps to fully explore all of the opportunities available to them and to ask their teachers for support with this. For those receiving AS results, their schools are well equipped to advise them as they progress to complete their A-levels in 2024.

“We wish all students well for the future, and once again extend our thanks to teachers and school and college leaders for all that they have done to support our young people.”