Monday 17 August 2020 10:21 am

GCSE results in Northern Ireland to be based on predicted grades

Pupils in Northern Ireland will receive teacher predicted grades for their GCSEs, the education minister said.

Ahead of the publication of GCSE results on Thursday education minister Peter Weir said that “exceptional circumstances” meant that pupils would receive predicted grades as their final mark.

Read more: Parents and students set for court battle over A-level results

“Having received advice from CCEA and listened to the concerns of school leaders, teachers, parents and young people, I have decided that all GCSE candidates will now be awarded the grades submitted by their centre,” Weir said according to the BBC.

“Standardisation is normally a key feature of awarding qualifications in Northern Ireland and across the UK.

“However, these are exceptional circumstances and in exceptional times truly difficult decisions are made.

“I am conscious that for GCSEs, unlike at A-level, we do not have system level prior performance data for this group of young people.”

The decision comes amid a growing backlash against the government for its handling of A-level results which were released last Thursday.

Read more: Labour call for government U-turn on A-levels ‘fiasco’

The algorithm used to moderate results by regulator Ofqual based on predicted grades and a school’s previous exam history has led to numerous examples of students receiving steep grade downgrades that have often meant missing out on university offers.

Almost 40 per cent of A-level grades awarded were lower than predicted following moderation.

Additionally, the algorithm used has been accused of favoring smaller institutions with strong exams results histories, arguably favouring privately educated students.

The Sixth Form Colleges Association said its analysis showed that students in larger institutions have been failed by this year’s A-levels system which was introduced after exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bill Watkin, chief executive of the SFCA, said Ofqual should “immediately recalibrate and rerun the model to provide all students with an accurate grade”.

“Should this still fail to produce results that are broadly similar to previous years, students should be awarded the grades predicted by teachers (known as centre assessed grades),” the BBC reported.