Each of the UK jurisdictions has devolved powers in regards to Education policy.
In 2013, the English government announced a reform to GCSEs and a new grading system comprising of numbers (9-1) rather than the letters (A*-G). As a result, the Northern Ireland and Welsh governments reviewed their policy on grading.
In June 2016, the then Minister for Education, Peter Weir MLA, requested the following changes to the grading of GCSEs offered by CCEA:
“the A* grade will be realigned to reflect the level of achievement on the English 9-1 scale, and;
A new grade C* will be introduced to align with the level of achievement consistent with the grade 5 on the English 9-1 scale.”
To meet the Minister’s requirements, CCEA introduced a nine lettered scale (A*-G, including C*). This will apply to qualifications taught from September 2017 and awarded in 2019.
The Welsh government chose to remain with the current eight letter grade (A*-G) model. Allowing 9-1 graded qualifications where an A*-G qualification was not available.