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Coronavirus: Stressed-out Northern Ireland pupils left 'in limbo' after school closures

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Lucy Greaves

Lucy Greaves

Luke O'Grady

Luke O'Grady

Annie Heavren

Annie Heavren

Patrick Gray

Patrick Gray

Lucy Greaves

THE announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night that UK schools will close from Friday until further notice and that exams in May and June are cancelled has caused stressed pupils in Northern Ireland to fear for their futures.

The news came while millions of pupils self-isolate as coronavirus spreads across the UK and has left GCSE and A-Level pupils here unsure of their next steps.

Belfast teenager Annie Heavern is a pupil at Strathearn School. The 16-year-old says the news was "frightening".

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Annie Heavren

Annie Heavren

Annie Heavren

"I don't know if they are going to take our predicted grades," she said. "I've worked hard all year on my school work, putting in a lot of effort, and to not to get to finish it is annoying.

"If they award on mock exams, people don't try hard for those exams. I was revising the night before and day of the exams, because I thought that they didn't really count for anything. I thought I had a lot more time to prepare for my actual GCSEs, but now that it is not happening, it is quite scary.

"It is annoying but I don't think that they really have any other options because of the whole coronavirus issue. I think they are trying to do the best that they can. So, I guess we will just have to deal with it."

Lucy Greaves (18) is a pupil at Victoria College in Belfast. She is in her A-Level year.

"I just feel very disoriented and stressed," she said. "There has been no confirmation about what is going to happen and I think everyone is really anxious about university and what they are going to accept us on. There have been a lot of whispers that they are going to mark us on predictive grades or let us do our exams in September and start university in December.

"If they did go on predictive grades, I think it might compromise the integrity of the A-Levels. I think everyone is so very stressed out. But I think it was the best decision to close the schools because they are just breeding grounds for infections."

Luke O'Grady (18) is an A-Level student at St Columb's College in Londonderry. "I am in my final year," he said. "I'm doing Moving Image Art, English Lit and Art and Design. This year is very crucial year for me. I want to go on to university to do Film Studies.

Luke O'Grady

"Everything is in disarray at the moment. We have already been off for a week and I found it a blessing because the previous week the teachers and students were frightened and there was a lot of panic in school. I wasn't really getting a lot done.

"Once I got home I got more done and have got more done this week being off. St Columb's College seem to be on the ball with regards online teaching."

He added: "Friends are freaking out. Some of them didn't do as well as they had wanted last year and were doing loads more hoping to make it up this year. A lot of people are in limbo."

Patrick Gray (16) is a GCSE student at Dominican College in Portstewart.

Patrick Gray

"I thought we could have stayed in school for a bit longer," he said. "Because if we still have to take the tests in the summer or September, we'll be at a disadvantage now not being in school for so long. Google Classroom has been set up for us, so we're going to do quite a bit on that.

"If they go on predictive grades or mocks, usually what students do is pull it out of the bag for GCSEs, the important bit, not the mocks. You just really wing the mocks a bit.

"I'm going to do the online learning, but if it comes out that we are being awarded our predictive grades I'm not going to do any more work, because there is no point."

Belfast Telegraph