Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pupils' GCSE computer science marks revoked after online coursework leak

An examination board has announced that students studying GCSE Computer Science will have their coursework marks revoked after details of their tasks were leaked online.

Ofqual stated that the decision will only affect pupils in Northern Ireland sitting the GCSE through UK exam boards AQA, OCR, Pearson and Eduqas.

The exams regulator has ruled that students in Northern Ireland must complete the coursework but will receive no credit for it.

The GCSE Computer Science coursework is currently worth 20% of pupils grade.

Julie Swan, Executive Director for General Qualification at Ofqual said: "We regret that it was necessary to change the qualification at this stage and recognise that it could be unsettling for you. We read all the responses to our consultation.

"It is clear that many of you have strong views about the current situation. We know that not everyone will agree with our decision.

"However, if we do not act now, it would be impossible for us to correct any unfairness caused by rules being broken. This way, you will all have an equal chance to show your knowledge and skills in the exams."

SDLP children and young spokesman Colin McGrath MLA has called for a review into how the GCSE details were leaked online.

He said: "GCSE Computer Science students in Northern Ireland are discovering that the leak of a coursework assignment on online forums now means that they will receive no credit for a piece of work that they have already completed in good faith and are now in the position that they must still complete it - adding to their workload and pressure.

"I understand this was a different call for the exams regulator to make and that their primary concern is ensuring the integrity of the qualification by making sure no students benefit from an unfair advantage over others.

"GCSEs are a very intense and difficult period for young people. This kind of disruption will only add further pressure to those students preparing for exams and will appear grossly unfair to those who approached the coursework in good faith."

He added: “Clearly there needs to be a review of this incident to ensure it cannot be repeated in the future."

Sinn Fein education spokeswoman Karen Mullan said: "This move affects students completing GCSE Computer Science through AQA, OCR, Pearson and Eduqas exam boards.

"Although these are all English-based boards, many local pupils who sit their exams through these bodies are being penalised as their coursework will not be counted towards their final grade.

"That is hugely unfortunate and unfair on those pupils who completed their work with integrity."

The Foyle MLA added: "Lessons need to be learned from this episode and every possible measure taken to ensure that flaws in the GCSE assessment process do not penalise students and that the integrity of the GCSE process is maintained."

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