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Equality Commission is asked to probe Weir's exams stance

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Unhappy: Daniel McCrossan has written a letter to the Equality Commission

Unhappy: Daniel McCrossan has written a letter to the Equality Commission

Unhappy: Daniel McCrossan has written a letter to the Equality Commission

The Education Minister has been reported to the Equality Commission over his decision not to delay exams despite calls from the Children's Commissioner and the interim mental health champion for a rethink.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan wrote to Chief Commissioner Geraldine McGahey asking for the Equality Commission to investigate the Minister's actions.

The Commission, which has already contacted the Department of Education, said it was important the Covid-19 pandemic did not exacerbate existing educational inequalities or cause further inequalities to develop.

In his letter to Ms McGahey, Mr McCrossan said: "Bearing in mind that the exam timetable starts in January, circumstances are now really pressing and the stress upon our young people with associated consequences for their mental health is coming rapidly to a head.

"It is clear that serious equality issues are emerging around Peter Weir's proposed way forward for these exams.

"We are seeing a pattern emerging whereby schools in disadvantaged areas seem to be having much higher absence rates due to Covid-19 associated problems."

An Equality Commission spokeswoman said they had contacted the Department of Education several times, adding: "Whilst we are in exceptional circumstances, it is important that the Covid-19 pandemic does not exacerbate existing educational inequalities or indeed cause further inequalities to develop.

"We are advising all public authorities that their Section 75 responsibilities continue to apply during the health pandemic.

"We have been in touch with the Department of Education, on several occasions over the period of the pandemic, regarding the application of the equality duties and the evaluation of information on examination."

A spokesman for the department said the Minister's priority is fairness to pupils. He said: "The Minister is aware that students are facing unprecedented disruption to their learning and have faced incredible challenges as a result of this pandemic.

"That's why the Minister has taken exceptional steps with examinations to ensure they are as fair as possible, including more generous grading across all qualifications and significant reductions in assessment."

Belfast Telegraph


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