It would be “unforgivable” if school exam results in Northern Ireland became the poor relation of those in Great Britain, Danny Kinahan has warned.
The UUP’s education spokesman said John O’Dowd must ensure GCSEs and A-levels here retain their high reputation.
“It is absolutely essential that we do not allow Northern Ireland’s GCSEs and A-levels to be downgraded in any way, or to be regarded as of less worth than equivalent qualifications on the UK mainland,” said Mr Kinahan yesterday.
“This would have obvious and very serious implications for pupils and students seeking to pursue university careers in Great Britain and it would be unforgivable if the Education Minister was to permit such a situation to arise.”
Mervyn Storey, of the DUP, also said there must be no drop in standards.
“Any change is dependent upon the continued comparability and portability of the qualifications across the UK,” he said. “The [CCEA] review suggests that work begins in relation to benchmarking and quality assurance of qualifications in the area of accountability and regulation. Details around this are scant but for this party to support any change it must be clearly demonstrated that any revised qualifications continue to be of a high standard and are portable throughout the UK and beyond.”
Billy Young, of the Association of Quality Education (AQE), said: “The general principle that I believe in is, we need to be exactly in line with the UK in terms of GCSE and A-levels so that our young people, many of whom go there, are not disadvantaged.”
Ulster Teachers’ Union general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said any changes to the exams must ensure that Northern Ireland’s “gold standard” remains.
“However, it is paramount that colleges, universities and employers also understand the changes so that GCSEs and A-levels in Northern Ireland are not seen as worth less than those in other parts of the UK.”