Major review into school exams
A major review is to be conducted into GCSE and A-level examinations in Northern Ireland, the Northern Irish Education Minister has told the Assembly.
The move by John O'Dowd comes after UK Education Secretary Michael Gove scrapped GCSEs in England.
Exams body the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessments (CCEA) will conduct what Mr O'Dowd said would be a "root-and-branch" review.
The minister said: "In the context of a wider programme of reform designed to improve the quality of our education system, I have been considering how best to ensure that the attainment of our young people is rewarded and recognised in a way that is robust, fair, equitable and credible in the eyes of parents, teachers, business and industry and other education providers including universities.
"I feel the time is right to commission the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment to conduct a root-and-branch review of GCSE and A-level qualifications here. Michael Gove's recent announcement reinforces the need for us to act."
The minister stressed that the review would not necessarily spell the end of the exams in the province. He said: "I do not believe we should be toying with changes to qualifications.
"If we want to improve our performance internationally we should focus on improving teaching and learning in the classroom, and on ensuring that every young person has the opportunity to achieve to their full potential.
"The review that I am launching will build on that foundation. It should consider the continuing value of GCSEs and A-levels and potential alternatives that will meet the needs of all learners here, now and in the future.
"I want a suite of qualifications which enable our young people to continue with their education, to get a job that is matched to their skills, which in turn supports the economy, serves the needs of our community in the 21st century and delivers our Programme for Government targets.
"I will want CCEA to consult with a wide range of key stakeholders to ensure that their views are taken into consideration before reporting back to me with its advice."