GCSE results for England and Wales are not out until next week but in Northern Ireland the proportion of top grades has risen for the third consecutive year.
More than one in five pupils there received a grade A, and the proportion of those awarded the top A* grade went up from 4.4 to 5.3 per cent. The percentage receiving grades A* to C also rose from 67.9 to 69.9.
Northern Ireland's results usually serve as a guide to results in England and Wales. Critics have queried the annual rise in the proportion of top grades awarded, but the increases have slowed in the past three years. Last year, the proportion receiving the top four grades in England and Wales rose by just 0.3 per cent.
Dr Alastair Walker, of the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment, said: "This is good news for students, teachers and parents who have worked in partnership to achieve such remarkable results. However, it's all too easy to focus on the top end of the results statistics ... I want to congratulate all students on their achievement."Reuse content