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O’Dowd launches review of GCSE and A Level qualifications

1 October, 2012 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has announced a fundamental review of GCSE and GCE A Level qualifications in the north of Ireland.

Over the past 12 months, the British Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, has made a series of announcements about changes to the three jurisdication qualifications system without seeking the views of the devolved administrations.

The most recent announcement from Mr Gove was in relation to his decision to abolish GCSEs in England.

Speaking after he made the announcement to the Assembly Chamber, Minister O’Dowd said: “In the context of a wider programme of reform designed to improve the quality of our education system, I have been considering how best to ensure that the attainment of our young people is rewarded and recognised in a way that is robust, fair, equitable and credible in the eyes of parents, teachers, business and industry and other education providers including universities. 

“I feel the time is right to commission the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to conduct a ‘root and branch’ review of GCSE and A Level qualifications here. Michael Gove’s recent announcement reinforces the need for us to act.”

The Minister continued: “I do not believe we should be toying with changes to qualifications. If we want to improve our performance internationally we should focus on improving teaching and learning in the classroom and on ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to achieve to their full potential. The review that I am launching today will build on that foundation. It should consider the continuing value of GCSEs and A Levels and potential alternatives that will meet the needs of all learners here, now and in the future. I want a suite of qualifications which enable our young people to continue with their education, to get a job that is matched to their skills, which in turn supports the economy, serves the needs of our community in the 21st century and delivers our Programme for Government targets.

“I will want CCEA to consult with a wide range of key stakeholders to ensure that their views are taken into consideration before reporting back to me with its advice.”

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