ASCL Northern Ireland comment on exam grading plans

16/04/2020
Robert Wilson, ASCL Northern Ireland regional officer, comments on Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir’s statement on arrangements for summer exams
 
Commenting on Northern Ireland Education Minister Peter Weir’s statement on arrangements for summer exams, Robert Wilson, Northern Ireland regional officer at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome that the Department of Education has made a decision for the grading of A levels, AS levels and GCSEs in Northern Ireland following the cancellation of exams. We must all recognise this is a system forged in extremis. It is about making the best out of a difficult situation to ensure that students in Northern Ireland are treated fairly in circumstances beyond their control. We wanted a process which allows students to progress to the next stage of their lives without hindrance. Now that a decision has been made, we call on all to back the approach.
 
“We are confident that the plan is a fair and consistent way of grading these qualifications in these circumstances. The Minister has made it clear that teachers will have a key role to play. Pupils can be assured their schools know them well and will assess their work with the utmost diligence.
 
“It is important to understand that a mechanism is applied to A level, AS level and GCSE results every year which means the distribution of grades is broadly the same as for similar cohorts in previous years. The model planned this year will apply a similar approach to assessments made by schools and colleges rather than to exams. The benefit is this ensures consistency over time and, as the Minister has said, the cohort of 2020 can therefore be confident that a grade achieved this year will have the same value as in any other year.

“We await with anticipation for further clarity to be provided by the Department for the Economy in relation to vocational qualifications, thousands of which are taken by students in schools in Northern Ireland each year.”