The history of the education system in Northern Ireland

This historical account of the Northern Ireland (NI) education system is divided into four key periods in its development: the period before the abolition of the NI Parliament, the period of direct rule from 1971-1999, the period of the NI Assembly and the system in operation today.

The education system today
In January 2004, the Government announced that the Transfer tests will end in 2008.

This will have a profound effect on the education system in NI.

Today, there are more than 350,000 pupils in full time education. The Department of Education dispenses, through the five regional Education and Library Boards (ELB’s), an annual budget of £1.3 billion.

More than 35 per cent of pupils now leave with A-level qualifications (three quarters of these with 3 or more A’s) and more than 58 per cent gain GCSE’s. The figure for those who leave with no formal qualifications has been reduced to around 3 per cent (in the mid 1980’s, this was more than 17 per cent).

There are now more than 20,000 teachers and the pupil: teacher ratio is almost 17:1.

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