Top schools

Love’em or loathe’em, the biggest spread of school league tables can be found in the Sunday Times Parent Power supplements. In the top 100 state secondary schools ranked in order of combined highest % of A levels (A,B) and GCSE’s (A+/A) in what’s claimed to be “ the definitive guide to Britain’s top schools” Lumen Christi College, Londonderry is the top Northern Ireland school, coming in at a storming 17 (28 last year), followed by Methodist College Belfast at 72 (69), Sullivan Upper Holywood, 75 (87), Ballyclare High School 85 (93), Strathearn School Belfast 89 (62), and Banbridge Academy 93 (73). In a combined list of top independent and state schools, Lumen Christi would come in around 75th. Placings are affected by the number of entrants (the higher the number, the greater the risk of being knocked down a few points) and this particular list doesn’t give that information. By a very crude measure, if you count NI with 3% of the UK population, NI has 6% of the “ best “ secondary schools. But remember, Scotland is left out as they have Highers, not A levels and GCSEs. And pardon my ignorance if they exist, I’ve never seen any attempt at comparisons with school standards in the Republic.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London