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O’Dowd signals way forward for A Levels and GCSEs

30 September, 2013 - by John O'Dowd

 Education Minister, John O’Dowd, today unveiled proposals for the future of A levels and GCSEs here.

The proposals are contained in a report by the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) following its review of GCSEs and A levels undertaken at the Minister’s request.

The Minister said:

“Last autumn I commissioned CCEA to undertake a fundamental review of A level and GCSE qualifications. This followed a series of announcements made by the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP.

“I asked CCEA to consult widely and to consider what changes should be made to ensure a set of robust and portable qualifications are developed; qualifications that have the confidence of learners, educational institutions and employers across these islands and beyond.

“I have considered the report over the summer and am today publishing it with a view to consulting on it in the coming weeks.”

The report contains 49 recommendations ranging from short-term changes to GCSEs and A levels which reflect our statutory curriculum, to exploring the use of the GCSE and A level brand alongside England and Wales.Crucially, it states that there is no case for replacing A levels or GCSEs in the short or medium term, although it does acknowledge the need to embark now on a long-term vision for learning, assessment and qualifications.

Mr O’Dowd continued: “I am pleased with CCEA’s report, which is comprehensive and wide ranging and usefully identifies the views of a broad range of stakeholders which will provide a springboard from which we can now move forward. CCEA was tasked to complete a huge amount of work in a very constrained time period. I am very grateful to all those involved in this essential piece of work – in particular to the expert group who I am sure we will continue to rely upon to support this programme of work going forward.

“We now need to flesh out the recommendations within the report. Given its potential significance for qualifications development, I am also launching a consultation today which will provide a further opportunity for stakeholders, including teachers, employers, parents and pupils, to comment upon the findings within the report and to let my Department know their views.

“I plan to move forward with these recommendations as soon as possible but am prepared to take into account any issues or concerns which the public might have. I would encourage everyone with an interest to look at the detail of CCEA’s report and respond to the consultation.

“This is an important piece of work and provides an unprecedented opportunity to set out our own stall for learners here. The recommendations articulate what we should do to improve the life chances of our young people. The report allows us to pro-actively determine what is right for us in the context of our own curriculum and to align our qualifications to our curriculum in the interests of all learners.”

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