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Education in Northern Ireland

Education in Northern Ireland differs from systems used elsewhere in the United Kingdom, though it is more similar to that used in Wales than it is to Scotland. A child’s age on 1 July determines the point of entry into the relevant stage of education unlike England and Wales where it is the 1 September. Northern Ireland’s results at GCSE and A-Level are consistently top in the UK. At A-Level, one third of students in Northern Ireland achieved A grades in 2007, which is a higher proportion than in England and Wales.

Central administration
The Northern Ireland Executive’s Department of Education (DENI) is responsible for the country’s education policy except for the higher and further education sector for which the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) retains responsibility.

The Department of Education’s main areas of responsibility cover pre-school, primary, post-primary and special education; the youth service; the promotion of community relations within and between schools; and teacher education and salaries. Its primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of Northern Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy.

Local administration
Education at a local level in Northern Ireland is administered by five education and library boards covering different geographical areas. The role of the boards is to ensure that high quality education, youth and library support services exist throughout their areas. Each board is allocated resources by the Department of Education.

Classroom 2000 (C2k), on behalf of the five boards, is responsible for the provision of information and communications technology managed services to all schools in Northern Ireland.

These boards are as follows:

· Belfast Education and Library Board
· North Eastern Education and Library Board
· South Eastern Education and Library Board
· Southern Education and Library Board
· Western Education and Library Board