By Tracy-Jo Smith
Osmotic schools are celebrating the results of their pupils' performance in the Alevel examinations in what has been an impressive year for Church schools.
In Northern Ireland, where 12 out of the top 50 secondary schools in the United Kingdom were to be found, five of the 12 were Catholic institutions. Their success has been attributed to the retention of the grammar school system, according to Mgr Denis Faul, who for many years was headmaster of St Patrick's Boys' Academy, Dungannon.
Mgr Faul said that children were more advanced in the province, a year ahead than their English counterparts in literacy, because of the 11 plus system.
All Hallows Catholic High School in Macclesfield, a mixed comprehensive, came 16th out of 200 schools, according to a survey compiled by the Guardian newspaper.
A spokeswoman for the school, said: "Our results were excellent. We're delighted with all the achievements of the students."
Elsewhere, St Edward's College in Liverpool, a voluntary-aided school, with over 960 girls and boys aged from 11-18, also scored highly. Two pupils were among the top five in their Design and Technology exams of the AQA Exam Board, setting them well apart from other pupils' results nationally.
Downside, a leading Catholic boys' school, achieved a 98 per cent pass rate overall, with one pupil attaining six grade As.
Headteacher Dom Anthony Sutch OSB, although very pleased with his school's performance raised concerns about school league tables.
He said: "I am genuinely wary about league tables. They tend to give a false impression which reflect a certain set of statistics. They take no account of the basic ability of the pupil."
Dorn Anthony attributed his pupils' success to the Catholic ethos of the school.
"It is very possible that our boys do well because we feed the child's mind and emphasise the moral responsibility of developing one's talents," he said.
St Mary's College in Middlesbrough, also achieved an excellent pass rate. of 89,9 per cent, which compared favourably with the national pass rate of 89.8 per cent, making it the sixth consecutive year in which students scored a pass rate higher than the national figure.
Principal Don Lillistone said: "These results are a tribute to the hard work of the students and the commitment and expertise of the staff."
Deputy headteacher of the Marist Convent Senior School, Ascot, Katherine Jeffrey, also expressed pleasure at her girls' performance — an overall success rate of 95 per cent was achieved.
Oona Stannard, director of the Catholic Education Service said that Catholic schools had been very well represented and that the results paid enormous credit to staff and their families.
She said: "Catholic schools create a tremendous sense of purpose and instill in the pupil that it is their God-given duty to give their best."
As schools recover from the AS level fiasco and prepare for the next round of new government demands. Worth, one of Britain's leading Catholic independent schools, is set to introduce the International Baccalaureate as an alternative to the A-level system.
Headmaster Fr Christopher Jamison believes the Baccalaumate, a Isroadly-based education programme, would help restore confidence in the exam procedure and boost morale among students and staff.