HC Deb 25 July 1986 vol 102 cc531-3W
Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will initiate an inquiry into the reasons why secondary schoolchildren in England secure, on average, significantly less success in O and A-level examinations by comparison with children in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Chris Patten

[pursuant to his reply, 26 June 1986, c. 249–50]: Information drawn from the school leavers surveys of England and Northern Ireland is as follows:

School Leavers
England and Northern Ireland 1983–84
England Per cent. Northern Ireland
1 + A-level pass 17.2 22.5
No A-level pass but:—
5+ Higher grades 1 at O/CSE 10.7 8.7
1–4 Higher grades at O/CSE 26.9 25.0
No higher grades but:—
1 or more other2 grades 35.7 21.5
No graded results 9.5 22.4
Total 100 100
Total leavers (000s) 752.8 27.7


Schools Leavers Surveys, England and Northern Ireland. Data on examinations for England is subject to sampling error.


1. Higher grades defined as a 0-levels grades A-C and CSE grade 1.

2. Other grades defined as 0-level grades D, E and CSE grades 2–5.

These data do not include any CSE, O-level or A-levels achievements by young people after leaving school. In England many 16 to 19-year-olds study in FE colleges rather than schools: the proportion is smaller in Northern Ireland. Taking into account achievements in both schools and FE colleges, it is estimated that 20 per cent. of young people in England attain 1 or more A-level passes compared with 23 per cent. in Northern Ireland. A range of other qualifications are, of course taken by 16 to 19-year-olds.

Below A-level, the figures for schools show that about 38 per cent. of English pupils achieve one or more higher grades passes compared with about 34 per cent. in Northern Ireland.

Such comparisons between examination results, whether at CSE, O-level or A-level, are, however, invalid unless other factors are taken into account.

My right hon. Friend has no plans to initiate an inquiry. We have said that we will consider research proposals on the factors affecting pupil performance.

Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of secondary schoolchildren in England and Wales left school without any O or A-level passes for the most recent year for which figures are available, and what were the comparable totals in each of the previous five years.

Mr. Dunn

[pursuant to his reply, 26 June, c. 250]: Information for England is give in the table. Information for Wales is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Percentage of school leavers with no graded O level/CSE or A level qualifications
per cent.
1979–80 12.2
1980–81 11.4
1981–82 10.6
1982–83 9.6
1983–84 9.5
1984–85 9.4

Source: School Leavers Survey.

Data subject to sampling error.

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