The percentage of students receiving the very highest grades continued to increase, with 39.9% of GCSE entries awarded Grades A and above, a 3.6 percentage point increase on previous outcomes.
The percentage of students achieving Grades C and above was very similar to 2020, with over 89% of students being awarded these grades.
Minister McIlveen said: “I wish to congratulate all of the young people who have received their GCSE results today. They have worked incredibly hard to achieve success in their studies and this has been reflected in the grades they have deservedly achieved today,
“No other cohort of students have experienced a situation where they have been out of the classroom for a sustained period of time, not just once, but twice. Despite two years of disrupted learning, our young people have shown immense determination, resilience and tenacity in their studies.
“I also wish to pay tribute to teachers across Northern Ireland who have been at the heart of students’ education throughout this important year. Without their enthusiasm, dedication and commitment, today’s successes would not have been possible.”
Following the cancellation of exams in January, the Department and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) worked with school leaders, trade unions, employing authorities and the Education and Training Inspectorate to put in place alternative awarding arrangements to ensure that students could progress onto the next stage of their journey, be it further education, employment or training.
To support schools and colleges in Northern Ireland, CCEA provided extensive guidance and training and external quality assurance ensured grades were determined appropriately.
Concluding, the Minister said: “I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all school staff, parents, governors and young people for their hard work, dedication, efforts and support during the current pandemic.
“Congratulations to all our students and my very best wishes to them for the future. I would encourage young people to remain in education or training post-16, following a course in a setting that best meets their needs and aspirations.”
CCEA has set up a dedicated results helpline which offers advice and guidance for students receiving their 2021 results. The helpline is in operation from 9am-5pm until Friday, August 20. Anyone with queries regarding CCEA’s results can call 028 9026 1220, email [email protected], or visit the CCEA website to access answers from the Frequently Asked Questions section.