Education in Northern Ireland

Attainment has increased over recent years. Those from poorer backgrounds are still much less likely to achieve five or more A*–C grades at GCSE (including maths and English).

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Link to source: Department of Education, Northern Ireland

Pupils from poorer backgrounds in Northern Ireland have much lower attainment on average than those from better-off backgrounds.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to observe any long-term trends in the attainment gap as results for pupils who are eligible for free school meals are only available for four years, from 2013 to 2016, and only two of these years are comparable with the previous year due to a change in eligibility criteria.

Looking more broadly between comparable periods (2013 to 2014 and 2015 to 2016), there appears to have been a slight narrowing in the attainment gap, by about half a percentage point across each period. In both cases this gap is narrowing due to improved performance of those pupils who are eligible to receive free school meals.