Teachers’ Union urges minister to ‘put students first’

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The Education Secretary’s delay of radical exam reform does little to allay fears that local pupils could still be disadvantaged, according to the biggest locally-based teachers’ union.

Jacquie Reid, formerly a teacher at Millburn Primary in Coleraine and now an officer with the Ulster Teachers’ Union, was speaking after Michael Gove accepted his original timetable for changes to GCSE and A-levels was impracticable.

“That Mr Gove expected these changes to be in place by 2015 was ludicrous from the outset and at least he has taken on board advice that such haste could result in even more mistakes being made in the system, given that he believes the existing English board GCSEs are ‘not fit for purpose’,” she said.

“However, the fact that these swingeing changes will go ahead is still potentially worrying in that they could create a two-tier exam system with English board exam results not being deemed equal to Northern Ireland ie CCEA, exam results.

“In this time of globalisation we must ensure that Northern Ireland children are competing for college and university places, as well as jobs, on a level playing field where exams have equal parity and a GCSE or A-level from CCEA is just as valuable as one from the English exam board.

“Northern Ireland’s high academic record and its reputation for top flight scholars speaks for itself but this must not be allowed to be compromised or de-valued.

“The Minister is still considering how to go forward in this area and we would urge him to put our young people’s interests at the heart of his deliberations.”