Schools to assess GCSE and A-level grades in Northern Ireland

Schools will determine pupils’ GCSE and A-level grades in Northern Ireland, it has been announced.

All exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statistical standardisation using an algorithm, which saw many grades lowered last year, will not be used in 2021.

There was an outcry from many schools, pupils and parents when the algorithm used to standardise results reduced more than a third of A-level grades predicted by teachers.

The algorithm was scrapped after days of controversy.

Stormont Education Minister Peter Weir told the Assembly on Tuesday that he believed exams are the “fairest and most robust method” for awarding qualifications and was disappointed these could not be held again this year.

He told MLAs that lessons had been learned from last year.

Mr Weir said local exam board the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) will provide support and training to help teachers make holistic judgments to decide grades.

The CCEA will also provide the option to use assessment resources.

Mr Weir emphasised that these assessments are not exams and will not be treated as exams.

The CCEA will also carry out an external quality assurance process looking at the grades submitted by all schools and colleges throughout June.

Results days will remain as previously announced – AS and A-levels on August 24 and GCSEs on August 27.

Mr Weir also announced he will put in place indemnity arrangements to protect schools from potential legal challenges.