Review of GCSE and GCE Qualifications Gets Underway

A review of the future of GCSEs and A levels in Northern Ireland gets underway today with the publication of an online survey seeking views from across the community on these important qualifications.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) has been commissioned by the Minister for Education, John O’Dowd MLA, to carry out the review to ensure that GCSE and GCE qualifications are capable of

"testing and rewarding the learning and attainment of pupils at the end of compulsory schooling and at the end of 6th form."

The review will look at the benefits of retaining the current system, options for improving it, and the possibility of replacing it.

CCEA will be gathering feedback from across the Northern Ireland community, taking evidence and advice from key stakeholders, and looking at best practice in other exam systems. In particular CCEA will be looking to ensure school leaders play a significant part in the process.

CCEA Interim Chief Executive Richard Hanna commented:

"GCSEs and A levels are excellent qualifications and there is significant evidence to show they are valued by employers and universities. However it is essential that we keep our qualifications under constant review to ensure they continue to meet the needs of our young people, the economy and reflect international best practice.

In particular, it is vitally important to ensure that our qualifications at both GCSE and GCE continue to have currency and transportability in these islands and beyond.

The first stage of the process is today’s publication of an online survey to gather feedback on how the current system is viewed and how it might be improved for the future. We would encourage anyone with an interest in this important issue to log on to our website and fill in the questionnaire."

The survey questionnaire can be found on here and will be available to complete until 21 January 2013. To request a hard copy questionnaire, please contact CCEA Research and Statistics Unit on (028) 9026 1455 or e-mail:

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