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NI students face fresh chaos as BTec grades pulled on eve of results day


Students awaiting their exam results (PA)

Students awaiting their exam results (PA)

Students awaiting their exam results (PA)

Northern Ireland pupils face a fresh round of results chaos after exam board Pearson pulled its BTec results on the eve of releasing them.

The exam board said it would be re-grading all its BTecs to bring them in line with A Levels and GCSEs, which are now being graded by school-based assessment's following a u-turn by devolved governments across the UK.

Pearson, who announced the move on Wednesday evening, apologised to pupils and acknowledged the additional uncertainty this would cause.

However, the late decision will cause further disruption to students seeking places in further and higher education.

Ken Webb, chairperson of the Further Education College Principals' Group in Northern Ireland, said it was "extremely disappointing" that Pearson waited until the eleventh hour to communicate its decisions.

“To ensure that no student is disadvantaged any further as a result of the delay in issuing results, the six regional colleges of further education have taken steps to ensure that a place is reserved for any student who has already applied for a further education or training course and who meet the entry requirements, " Mr Webb said.

"In addition, the colleges’ application processes will remain open to allow other young people to submit applications for courses once they receive their results.

“We feel desperately sorry for the students affected in a year when they have already undergone far too much disruption and hope that Pearson will act to issue revised grades within days. We encourage all students to contact their local college for further advice.”

Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald called for immediate action.

The East Derry MLA said it was "simply unacceptable" that BTec pupils were only informed of the decision to delay awarding grades 24 hours before pupils were due to receive them.

“Many young people will be depending on these grades to progress to further courses and apprenticeships," she said.

"The withholding of grades will leave them in a state of limbo and further compound what is already a stressful and anxious time.

“Those young people awaiting results need urgent clarity.

“I am urging the Economy Minister to immediately engage with the awarding body and the English Education Minister to ensure this situation is resolved as a matter of urgency.”

Pearson said in a statement: "BTec qualification results have been been generally consistent with teacher and learner expectations, but we have become concerned about unfairness in relation to what are now significantly higher outcomes for GCSE and A-levels."

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: "We know this delay to BTEC results will be disappointing for students and understand their frustration.

"The awarding organisations have decided to take more time in order to make absolutely certain no student is inadvertently worse off due to changes in how grades are assessed.

"Critically, no student will see their result downgraded as a result of this review, so results already issued will either stay the same or improve.

"The relevant awarding organisations have assured us that students will receive their results as soon as possible.

"Ofqual, Ucas and the relevant awarding organisations are also working to ensure students seeking entrance to university are not disadvantaged, and we are working with colleges and other further education providers to make sure students looking to continue into further education can still do so."

Belfast Telegraph