Education Minister, Peter Weir MLA, has determined that all candidates taking GCSEs awarded by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) will receive results based solely on the estimates provided by schools and colleges.
This will not involve any delay in the awarding process and all CCEA GCSE results will be published on Thursday 20 August as planned. CCEA provides around 97% of GCSE examinations in Northern Ireland. Students who have taken GCSEs via other awarding bodies in England or Wales will be graded according to the approach taken by those organisations
Commenting on the decision, Minister Weir said: "Having received advice from CCEA and listened to the concerns of school leaders, teachers, parents and young people, I have decided that all GCSE candidates will now be awarded the grades submitted by their centre.
"Standardisation is normally a key feature of awarding qualifications in Northern Ireland and across the UK. However, these are exceptional circumstances and in exceptional times truly difficult decisions are made. I am conscious that for GCSEs, unlike at A level, we do not have system level prior performance data for this group of young people.
"I want to encourage as many young people as possible to remain in education or training post-16 and to know they have another opportunity to engage with education. I am also mindful that unlike A-Level, many GCSE pupils will not have access to previous public examination outcomes to inform any appeals process.
"I have, therefore, acted now in advance of the publication of GCSE results to ease anxieties, reassure young people and their families and ensure that every individual candidate receives a grade that recognises the work they have done.
"All of our young people have shown incredible resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that our GCSE pupils will now move forward confidently to their next step in education, employment or training with the qualifications that teachers or lecturers have judged were deserved.
"I want to send my very best wishes to everyone who receives their GCSE results on Thursday.
"With regards to A levels and AS qualifications, unlike GCSEs, they were standardised on the basis of candidates’ prior performance in public examinations. I would encourage those pupils dissatisfied with their result to contact their school or college to work through the appeals process which is free this year.
"As the appeals process is now underway, I am monitoring the outcome of appeals very closely to ensure that fair results are restored. CCEA has advised that extra resources are already being deployed to ensure that as part of a robust process the appeals will be dealt with both efficiently and effectively."