| 7°C Belfast

Coronavirus: Northern Ireland exams body plans for disruption


Exam bodies are planning to deal with disruption (David Davies/PA)

Exam bodies are planning to deal with disruption (David Davies/PA)

Exam bodies are planning to deal with disruption (David Davies/PA)

The Northern Ireland exams body is drawing up plans to manage any potential disruption to GCSE and A-Level assessments as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) said schools and pupils should continue to prepare for 2020 summer exams as normal.

In Northern Ireland, GCSE and A-Level exams are to begin on May 4 with the full programme kicking in on May 11.

Plans to mitigate for illness include what to do if schools have to close for extended periods or if pupils are ill and cannot sit an exam.

A spokeswoman for the CCEA said it was working with counterparts from across the UK on contingency plans to manage any risks and to ensure exams run smoothly.

“We will update existing guidance to reflect any specific arrangements schools and colleges should put in place, if required,” she said.

“In the meantime, students, schools and colleges should continue to prepare for the summer examinations and assessments as usual.”

In the UK, exams regulator Ofqual said it was in discussion with the Department for Education about any “additional measures” that might need to be taken this summer to ensure GCSE and A-level tests run smoothly.

In the event of widespread national disruption, such as the closure of schools, government departments would make the relevant announcements.

Meanwhile, the government has warned there would be “significant and clearly noticeable” pressures on wider society if the outbreak worsens in the UK.

The number of cases in the UK rose to 51 on Monday, with one confirmed case in Northern Ireland, where 151 tests have been carried out. Almost 14,000 people have been tested across the UK.

Staff absences, school closures, disruption to non-urgent care and cancellation of large-scale events are all possible scenarios if Covid-19 becomes a “severe prolonged pandemic” and is well-established among the UK population, the UK government has said.

But the Government’s 27-page battle plan says any future action depends on the course of the disease, “which cannot be predicted accurately at this point”.

Up to a fifth of employees could be absent from work in a “stretching scenario”, according to the document.

If significant numbers of police staff are unable to work, forces will concentrate on responding to serious crimes and maintaining public order.

In the health service, roster changes may be necessary which would involve “calling leavers and retirees back to duty”.

The outbreak may lead to a temporary reduction and delay in non-essential care.

Belfast Telegraph