Some secondary schools get better results than selective grammar schools

In days and weeks to come, there may be many ways to slice and dice the data that Kathryn Torney published in The Detail and the Sunday Times this morning.

Chris has already alluded to the potential weakness in directly comparing the raw NI stats about numbers of pupils achieving 7 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and Maths with English secondary schools given the selective nature of the NI educational system.

I wondered about the blurred boundary between grammar and non-grammar schools. Were any grammar schools being out-performed by secondary schools?

The tables below are sorted by descending percentage of pupils achieving 7+ and 5+ GCSEs at A*-C including English and Maths. The colour coding helps indicate which schools are grammar and which aren’t. (I’ve included the percentage of A grades in their 2006 year 8 intake of the grammar schools.) Click on the tables to expand them.

Boundary between grammer and non-grammar schools schieving 7 GCSEs inc English and Maths

Boundary between grammer and non-grammar schools schieving 5 GCSEs inc English and Maths

On both these measures, Campbell College is the lowest performing grammar school in the 2010/2011 GCSE cohort.

Ballymena’s Cambridge House Grammar and the nearby St Killian’s College (non-grammar) have very similar GSCE results. Yet St Killian’s had no academic selection to seed it’s Year 8 intake in 2006, and has more than double the percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals.

Some non-grammar schools – a small number – appear to be able to overcome the systemic disadvantage of selection and punch above their weight, in the tougher measures that include the employability subjects Maths and English as well as in overall any-subject results.

What is it about St Patrick’s Co-ed in Magherafelt St Patrick’s Bilateral, Co-Ed College in Maghera that means it outperformed 5 grammar schools in 2010/11? Have they a sneaky supply of pupils who could have done well but didn’t sit the transfer test? While many schools manage to ‘game’ the overall number of A*-C GCSE statistics by targeting pupils with vocational and subjects suited to the pupils’ interests and abilities, achieving a good score with English and Maths included is a lot tougher.

What is it about Campbell College that means it lags behind all the other grammar schools as well as a handful of top-performing non-grammars? Campbell does not use academic selection for its full intake. These 2010/11 stats show a dip below its 2006-8 result levels.

Alan Meban. Normally to be found blogging over at Alan in Belfast where you’ll find an irregular set of postings, weaving an intricate pattern around a diverse set of subjects. Comment on cinema, books, technology and the occasional rant about life. On Slugger, the posts will mainly be about political events and processes. Tweets as @alaninbelfast.