Catholic schools still underperforming at the bottom, but…

Fascinating statistics coming out on the Department of Education. Girls do better than boys with Higher education: “85.8% of grammar school girls left school with two or more A levels or equivalent compared to 73.2% of grammar school boys (the corresponding proportions for secondary schools were 31.3% for girls and 15.0% for boys”. And, under the same measure, Catholics are doing better than Protestants: “47.3% of Catholic school leavers left with two or more A levels compared to 41.0% of Protestant school leavers”. However, there are slightly more Catholic students leaving without a single qualification than Protestant. In today’s Irish News Professor Bob Osborne told Simon Doyle that the differential is consistent with previous studies suggesting that at the bottom, Catholic school leavers do less well:

“However, previous research suggests that Catholic managed schools do better for their pupils from poorer backgrounds than those in other managed schools. This ‘school effect’ in Catholic schools particularly offsets the effect that Catholic managed schools have a much higher number of pupils from poorer backgrounds than is the case in other managed schools”

Are we looking at a faith school effect? It’s hard to tell since, most of the state schools that retain a similarly strong corporate identity, are grammars like Inst, BRA, or Methodist College. But if so, what chance is there of bringing back Church of Ireland schools? Or even the possibility of going down the English route and opening the possibility of joint faith schools.

  • SuperSoupy

    And for the demographic lovers amongst us we get some population stats at the lower age range without NISRA having the opportunity to alter raw data.

    Table 6:


    Catholics leaving school – 12,800
    Protestants leaving school – 10,700
    Others leaving school – 1,900

    That’s a 20% differential.

    If the NISRA had this data set it would have allocated the majority of ‘others’ as protestant.

    Nice to see some raw data for a change.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’ve given that another thread SS, with full credit to yourself. It’s an important these, which could yield some important insight into the context of the delayed announcement of the results in 2002.

    But I also think there are other things in this report that should be given space too!

  • Seamus Barton

    Just a thought – is it not a terrible indictment of Northern Ireland that such statistics exist and are a matter of debate?


  • smcgiff

    Ralph/Seamus Barton,

    I’m pretty sure similar are available for the Republic. That they are subject to debate is because of NI’s almost unique constitutional position. So, it is only an indictment of fact.

  • abucs

    Joint faith schools would be a decent option where the economics dictate.

    Any ideas why the Catholic Maintained Sector has most of it’s relative success with their more scholastic students but none (relatively) with the less scholastic ???

  • George

    just a guess but maybe they do streaming up north?

    A lot of Catholic schools down south do it.

    Basically, after the first set of summer exams in secondary school the best 20-30 pupils (depending on class size) are all put in the same “A” class, with the rest going into “B” and “C”.

    The gimp teachers, one of which is compulsory in every school, are kept well and truly away from the A stream pupils.

  • abucs

    Thanks George.

    That makes sense.

    I wonder if the parents of the students with the ‘gimp’ teachers are entitled to a partial refund ?? :o)

    i guess it makes sense to grade students. They both should benefit from that. But i can’t see the ethics in depriving the bottom from the best teachers ??

    What do you think ??

  • Aaron McDaid

    How do you define “best” teacher? If a teacher is great at explaining most of a subject, but isn’t great at the advanced topics, then the B and C class students will benefit greatly from them. In some sense, such a teacher is the “best” for them despite being of no use to the “A” class.

    But i can’t see the ethics in depriving the bottom from the best teachers

    We want to deprive the ‘bottom’ of those teachers who are best at teaching the advanced topics. And we want to deprive the ‘top’ class of those who are only good at explaining the more basic stuff.

    We need to end this fallacy that the “best” teacher for the most talented students is necessarily the same teacher as the “best” for the less able. This type fallacy is at the heart of most of the mistakes made in education.

    But then there are the teachers that are useless, and those that could do well with any class of students. So my theory mightn’t work after all 🙁

  • abucs

    Yes, fair enough Aaron.

    Some teachers are good at ‘knowing their stuff’, others good at explaining, others at pitching the pace of progress to the most efficient level, others at realising who might be falling behind, others at picking up unrelated student personal problems or putting in extra hours, or being more relevant in curricular application or surprise surprise, making the classes more enjoyable.

    I think the gimp reference was to teachers who are very much ‘a waste of space’ in all departments for everyone.

    Perhaps for this to be a factor there would have to be a large number of such gimps which i hope i was being unfair in assuming might exist in the system.

    If i am being unfair then thanks for pointing out the shortcomings of the discussion.