PLANS to overhaul the GCSE system in England - which have now been shelved - could mean those taken by pupils here are seen as ‘second best’.
That was the warning from the Ulster Teachers’ Union’s General Secretary, after it emerged UK Education Secretary Michael Gove had backtracked on plans to replace traditional GCSE exams with English Baccalaureate plans.
Avril Hall of the Union said the move to change the system in England indicated the exams system as it is, is not good enough, and could affect the reputation of the GCSE exams in Northern Ireland.
She said: “The very fact that England is tampering with the GCSE system could already have fatally flawed this exam as an elite qualification yet it is vital for the future of our children and our economy that they are able to compete in an international jobs market.
“Whatever qualifications they gain, these must have parity of esteem with any others in the UK – and further afield. The exams which Northern Ireland children sit must not be allowed in any way to be perceived as second-best.
“Students – and teachers – need to know that the effort they are investing in their work has a high value and will enable the young people to take their place in what is an increasingly global workplace. Without this assurance it would be all too easy for disaffection and cynicism to set in at a time when Northern Ireland’s economy simply cannot afford it.”
Ms Hall said it is especially important that the issue is resolved soon, and that Northern Ireland iskept in the loop of any future changes planned.
“The Education Minister is currently considering Northern Ireland’s GCSE and A-level system and is already on record as being ‘disappointed’ that the devolved administrations were not consulted on the Education Secretary’s initial ill-conceived English Baccalaureate plans – which he has now shelved. But this does not make the choice any easier for the students caught up at the centre of the changes,” she said.