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New Northern Ireland grading system aims for 'fair results' but parents fear for children's future


Ozzie Rogers

Ozzie Rogers

Jessica Barry

Jessica Barry




Ozzie Rogers

Education Minister Peter Weir has said his priority is that students here get "fair results" in the new grading system announced for cancelled GCSE, AS and A-level exams.

The onus will be on teachers to predict the grades they think pupils would have achieved.

Mr Weir said the exam grades received by pupils on August 20 will "involve teachers using their professional judgment, together with an extensive range of evidence held by schools, and statistical modelling".

It means that final grades will be based on the combination of information provided by the schools and colleges and that statistical information.

"This is a complex process, and more work will be needed on establishing an appropriate appeals mechanism and arrangements for private candidates," he said.

"A-level and GCSE marks and ranking from schools have to be with CCEA by May 29.

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"It remains my priority that pupils receive fair results that reflect hard work that they've put in, and enable judgments to be made about their future progression to study or employment or other avenues."

Meanwhile, two mothers have spoken of their fears of what the next four months hold for their children as they await results.

Miranda Rogers' 16-year-old son was diagnosed with leukaemia in October 2018, the start of Year 12.

That meant Ozzie, a pupil at Magherafelt High School, missed out on a lot of things in his young life, including school lessons.

Already having to repeat a year as treatment for his illness took priority, he is again left concerned at events which are completely out of his control.

"He has his hopes and dreams set to attend NRC Coleraine to complete a two-year diploma in music technology and I do hope he gets what he needs to obtain a place," said a worried Miranda.

"For a teenage boy to have his life turned upside down at 15 through his illness and now have to face more uncertainty, it must play heavy on his mind.

"We all want the best for our children, but for Ozzie having come through so much already, you really hope teachers have seen the potential he hasn't been able to fulfil so far. A year ago, he was undergoing his bone marrow transplant.

"Today, health wise, he's doing fine, but we'll just spend the next four month hoping that he can get the grades he needs to kick-start his life."

It's a double concern for Rachel Barry, who has two girls, Hannah (17) and Jessica (16), at New-Bridge Integrated College, Loughbrickland, who are left waiting for A-level and GCSE grades.

"I know most students usually cram at the last minute to get every mark possible, but they won't have that chance," said a concerned Rachel.

"Jessica faced a situation where her technology coursework was lost at school and she's been behind. She hadn't quite caught up and we're left worried about how that will affect her.

"This is everything to them right now. They're worried. It's the first real life experience they've had and it's not been what they expected at all.

"Ninety per cent of students are the same, it's always in the back of their minds that they have the chance to shine in exams. They're told mocks are a trial run. Now the fear is that many will not have put the same effort into their mocks, yet will still be judged on them to some extent.

"It'll be another four months of worry, fear and stress knowing they won't get the chance to sit those final exams. It's all been taken completely out of their hands.

"Hannah so much wants to go into social work and work with children. Jessica will now have four months not knowing whether she will get back to school to sit A-levels in the future.

"They are full of different emotions. Their future career steps depend on these exams. I hope this is fair for all students, but as a mother, I am sick with worry.

"It's hard enough for them being out of school, it's going to cause a lot of stress and worry on our children."

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