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Today's decision by Education Minister Peter Weir to change the way A Level results locally were awarded has been welcomed by local political representatives.

There had been calls to recall the Assembly as a result of a decision which saw grades awarded with the help of a mathmatical algorithm, leaving many pupils with lower results that their schools had awarded them.

All A-Level and AS candidates in Northern Ireland taking qualifications through the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) will now be awarded the higher of the grades submitted by their college or the grade calculated by CCEA. 

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I have today instructed CCEA that all of their AS and A level qualifications will now be awarded the higher of the grade submitted by their centre or the grade calculated by CCEA.

Our Lady's Grammar School Principal, Fiona McAlinden and Head of Sixth Form Sinead McLaughlin with students from left: Grainne Sweeney, Claire O'Keefe, Fionnuala McKeown and Paulina Chojnacka. The four students each achieved four or more A Grades at A Level. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Our Lady's Grammar School Principal, Fiona McAlinden and Head of Sixth Form Sinead McLaughlin with students at the school last Thursday. Included from left: Grainne Sweeney, Claire O'Keefe, Fionnuala McKeown and Paulina Chojnacka. The four students each achieved four or more A Grades at A Level. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Students Can Access Grades from their College

“CCEA is working to release the revised results to candidates as quickly as possible. In the interim, students will be able to access details of their Centre Assessed Grade from their school or college. 

“Concerns remain over the impact of changes to the qualifications system throughout the United Kingdom and any potential solution offered has its flaws.  

“However, my prime concern is to ensure that young people in Northern Ireland are in no way disadvantaged in comparison to their peers elsewhere. 

“Portability and comparability of qualifications is critical for students, particularly in Northern Ireland.

“Whilst standardisation is normally an important feature of awarding qualifications, these are truly unique circumstances and this approach is now being adopted across the UK.   This is why I have taken this decision today.

“In the challenging situation in which we find ourselves, there are no perfect solutions. Students would have preferred to have taken their exams, but that was simply not possible in the circumstances.  There is no substitute for exams themselves and recent events highlight the need for a full-time return to education, five days a week.  

“I want to thank our teachers and school leaders for all their hard work during this extremely challenging time.

“Our young people have shown their tremendous attitude and resilience though the COVID-19 pandemic.  I hope today’s decision will provide a platform for them to go forward positively into Higher Education, employment or training.”

Sensible Response

Newry and Armagh MLA Liz Kimmins said "This is the right decision and was the only sensible response to the problems which were evident last week. Minister Weir should have taken the action earlier and on the merits of the arguments rather than waiting on the approach of Ministers in London.

"The delay in changing this process has served only to compound the stress and and anxiety experienced by our students, their families and teachers”.

Concluding Ms Kimmins said “I’m pleased that through cross-party co-operation and pressure from the Education Committee that we now have a positive outcome for our young people and that the right decision has finally been made.”

Pupils Grades Unlocked

MLA Justn McNulty added "Teachers have been trusted, pupil's grades have been unlocked. Major well done to the pupils, parents, teachers and principals who So Powerfully Aired Their Anger and Frustration at the Grading Injustice

"Well done to the Minister on his volte-face. Now all AS & A2 students will receive the highest of either their CAG (teacher assessed grades) or the grade provided by CCEA."

A decision was also made today to award GCSE results according to the grades given by pupil's college. These results will be announced on Thursday coming.

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