Sinn Féin minister risks devaluing NI exams says Tory spokesman
Stormont education minister, John O’Dowd, could leave pupils from Northern Ireland with “devalued qualifications”, if he refuses to consider changing GCSEs in line with reforms proposed for England, according to Conservative spokesman, Franks Shivers. The Tory education secretary at Westminster, Nicky Morgan, outlined changes yesterday which include a wider range of grades and a greater emphasis on core academic subjects, along the lines of the successful English Baccalaureate qualification.
Mr Shivers explained, “in England exams will be graded from 9 – 1, which gives more scope to reward excellent performance. In addition, there will be a greater emphasis on getting the vast majority of pupils to study core subjects like English, maths, a science, history or geography and a language, to GCSE level. The plans aim to end the devaluation of GCSEs and address criticisms by employers and universities, who find that too many applicants for jobs or degree courses don’t have essential academic skills.”
“Unfortunately Mr O’Dowd shows no signs that he will look at similar changes in Northern Ireland”, Frank continued. “That’s very alarming, because our young people have to compete in a global market for jobs and education. It would be scandalous if pupils in Northern Ireland were left behind.”
“The basis of any successful education system is that every child and young person should receive an excellent education and academic ability should be recognised and rewarded. Unfortunately the minister has repeatedly put these aims second to the ideological needs of Sinn Féin. It’s vital that Northern Ireland has the best exam system possible and maintains its standing in the UK. John O’Dowd should not be allowed to stand in the way of progress.”