An opportunity to discuss the future of GCSE and A levels

From the end of February through to the middle of March consultation events are taking place to discuss the future of GCSE and A level qualifications in Northern Ireland. All interested parties are welcome to attend.

In October 2012 the Minister for Education, John O'Dowd MLA, asked CCEA Accreditation to carry out a review of GCSE and A Level qualifications.

The first stage of the review process, an online survey, attracted more than 500 responses. Now ten research events will run from 28 February to 12 March 2013 in various locations across Northern Ireland to allow for face to face discussion on the future of these qualifications.

Do you want to attend, share your opinion and listen to what others have to say? Then book your place online at You can choose from a number of dates, times and venues, but places are limited.

For additional information, the terms of reference for the review of GCSE and A Level qualifications in Northern Ireland are published on the CCEA website


Additional Information

List of GCSE & A Level Research Events

  • Armagh (afternoon and evening sessions) on 28 February 2013 at Armagh City Hotel.
  • Belfast (afternoon and evening sessions) on 11 March 2013 at Balmoral Hotel.
  • Cookstown (afternoon and evening sessions) 12 March 2013 at Glenavon House Hotel.
  • Newtownabbey (afternoon and evening sessions) on 7 March 2013 at Corrs Corner Hotel.
  • Omagh (afternoon and evening sessions) on 6 March 2013 at Silverbirch Hotel.

Background to the review

  • GCSEs and GCEs are offered by five awarding organisations which are regulated in the three jurisdictions by the Qualifications Regulator for Northern Ireland (CCEA Accreditation), England (Ofqual) and Wales (Welsh Government).
  • In Northern Ireland external qualifications are taken by learners at 15/16 and at 18/19. In schools these qualifications are in the main GCSEs and GCEs. Whilst some differences in GCSE and GCE qualifications do exist across the three jurisdictions, the qualifications regulators work to ensure that there is a consistency of demand and standards therefore ensuring the portability of these qualifications for learners.
  • The last 12 months have seen great change to the nature and operation of the three jurisdiction qualifications system and the qualifications regulators no longer make joint decisions on qualification provision. They do however continue, where possible, to engage in parallel decision making in order to maintain a level of consistency in the demand and standards of qualifications offered.
  • The government in England is in the process of introducing changes to GCSEs and GCEs for first teaching in September 2015. The Welsh Government has recently completed a review of 14-19 qualifications in Wales and findings from this will be released shortly. As a result differences are already emerging in the qualifications offered across the three jurisdictions most notably in GCSEs where England has already chosen to move to linear only GCSEs. In Wales and Northern Ireland there is still the option for both linear and unitised GCSE's to be available.
  • The Entitlement Framework (EF) here will become statutory from September 2013. The EF is designed to ensure that all 14-19 year olds in schools have access to a broad curriculum with a range of relevant and engaging courses available. Since its inception, a cornerstone of policy on the EF is that the choices and opportunities it offers must also be open to young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Development work is currently being undertaken to investigate how special schools and learning support centres could best be helped to engage fully in the EF and receive recognition for the achievements of their learners.

Note to Editors

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