Exam boards to ‘minimise impact’ after NI pullout

English exams will now be marked on a numerical basis, while Northern Ireland is retaining its A*-G system
English exams will now be marked on a numerical basis, while Northern Ireland is retaining its A*-G system
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The two leading English exam boards due to pull out of Northern Ireland will work to minimise the impact on pupils, they have said.

From September, GCSE exam candidates in England will move to a numerical results system while schools in the Province will retain the A*-G grading system.

As a result of Sinn Fein Education Minister John O’Dowd’s decision, both the AQA and OCR bodies have said they are not prepared to operate two different systems of marking exam papers.

Although the majority of pupils affected will have their Maths and English courses switched to the Northern Ireland CCEA examining body, those schools offering less traditional subjects such as Latin, Portuguese and Classics will no longer be able to do so.

Mr O’Dowd’s stance has angered a number of unionist politicians.

TUV leader Jim Allister branded the minister’s decision the result of a “malevolent political agenda,” while Peter Weir of the DUP accused Mr O’Dowd of taking an “inflexible approach”.

UUP MLA Sandra Overend said it was a “deliberate decision taken by a politically motivated minister, to drive the big English providers out of the local exam market”.

An OCR spokeswoman has resssured pupils already studying its new GCSEs in Maths and English that “they will not be disadvantaged” by the recent announcement, and added: “For these schools and students we will be fulfilling our commitment to offer exams in June 2017 and re-sits in November 2017.”

The AQA said they were working with the Northern Ireland education department to find a solution.