Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

GCSEs are here to stay, vows Education Minister John O'Dowd

John O'Dowd

Education Minister John O’Dowd has ruled out a move away from GCSEs despite Westminster counterpart Michael Gove wanting to scrap the exams.

Mr O’Dowd discussed plans to end GCSEs and introduce a two-tier system where some pupils sit an O-level-style exam while others sit an exam similar to the old CSEs at a meeting with Welsh Education Minister Leighton Andrews.

Speaking after yesterday’s talks in Cardiff, he said: “I am very concerned at the potential impact this policy might have for our young people.

“I am against categorising children in terms of their ability at such a young age — particularly when it could have a significant impact on their career opportunities. I note that Minister Andrews has said very clearly that he is not intending to introduce O-levels, and I commend him for that.”

He added: “I am content with our current GCSE offering and the range of abilities it provides for, but I am also conscious of the need to strive for higher educational standards and to close the attainment gap.

“I have no plans at present to move away from GCSEs.”

Proposed changes to A-levels in England were also discussed at the meeting and Mr O’Dowd confirmed that he has asked officials to engage with the vice-chancellors of Queen’s, the University of Ulster and with school principals here on the issues.

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