Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Catholic than Protestant children are leaving school without a single qualification in the north of Ireland

Simon Doyle:

More Catholic than Protestant children are leaving school without a single qualification, new statistics reveal.

While Catholic schools have more pupils leaving without GCSE or A-level passes their pupils are still the most likely to achieve three or more A-levels.

Universities also accepted a greater number of Catholic than Protestant students last year, according to statistics published by the Department of Education.

The figures, which are the results of the 2005/06 school leavers survey, detail the qualifications and destinations of school leavers by gender, religion and school sector.

The results revealed:
more than 40% of Catholics went on to university last year compared to just 33.6% of Protestants

Catholic school leavers were more likely than Protestants to go straight from school into employment – 11.6% compared to 11.1%

two-thirds of Protestant school leavers continued their studies at further education colleges compared to just one quarter of Catholics.

In addition, 3.5% of Catholic children left school with no formal qualifications last year.

The figure for Protestant children was 2.9%.

A total of 7.8% of children from ethnic minority groups, including the Travelling community, left school without a single GCSE or A-level.

Prof Bob Osborne, an expert in social statistics and education from the University of Ulster, said the figures were consistent with earlier data that showed Catholic school leavers were doing less well at the bottom.

He said there appeared to be a gap opening up at the top end – those achieving A-levels – between the attainments of those in Catholic and 'other' managed schools.

"However, previous research suggests that Catholic-managed schools do better for their pupils from poorer backgrounds than those in other managed schools," Prof Osborne said.

"This 'school effect' in Catholic schools partially offsets the fact that Catholic managed schools have a much higher number of pupils from poorer backgrounds than is the case in other managed schools."

Prof Tony Gallagher, head of the Queen's University Belfast's School of Education, said he believed a better indicator of low performance was the proportion of school leavers with less than one good GCSE.

"On this indicator the Catholic schools have also switched the pattern as now, for the first time, there are more leavers from other schools with less than the equivalent of one good GCSE as compared with leavers from Catholic schools," he said.

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