ASCL comment on qualifications system announcement in Northern Ireland

Robert Wilson, Regional Officer for ASCL Northern Ireland comments on the announcement of changes to the qualification system for summer 2021.
Commenting on the announcement of changes to the qualification system for summer 2021, Robert Wilson, Regional Officer for ASCL Northern Ireland, said:

The Education Minister’s announcement places faith in teachers and their schools in Northern Ireland who have led students through their studies during a difficult year of disrupted education. 

“We accept that there is not a perfect solution to this issue. The priority for all those involved must be to now work together and put the pupils at the centre of the process. Young people need confidence in the grades they will be awarded and to be equipped to progress to the next stage of their education without uncertainty moving into the summer term. The Minister’s emphasis on the importance of continuous study, whether or not students are able to physically be in the classroom, is therefore welcomed. 

“What we now need to see is more detail on the additional training and support promised in order to give school leaders, teachers and, most importantly, pupils some clarity on the way forward and to ensure an even-handed approach across all schools. The decision for the CCEA to offer repurposed papers and previously unseen questions as an optional resource is a pragmatic solution and offers schools the opportunity to further evidence the progress their students have made. It also potentially provides schools with some element of an external benchmark in the event of appeals.

“Schools will continue to focus not just on the assessment arrangements needed to generate the fairest and most realistic grades, but also to broaden as much as possible the knowledge, skills and understanding that students should have. There are still elements to be fleshed out in terms of quality control and assurance but these proposals give a framework that both students and school leaders can work within and put their trust in. 

“It is important that there is parity, as far as possible, for candidates in Northern Ireland who are entered for examinations through awarding organisations in England and Wales. We look forward to further clarity from the Department for Economy on similar arrangements for vocational qualifications