37% Of Grades Downgraded In Northern Ireland In A-Levels Crisis

37% Of Grades Downgraded In Northern Ireland In A-Levels Crisis

Over a third of all students taking their A-Levels in Northern Ireland had their grades downgraded by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) exam body.

Northern Ireland, which has 28,000 A-Levels students, had a paradoxical year. Although 37 percent of students in the North saw their grades decrease compared to their teacher's estimates, nine percent of students in Northern Ireland received A* grades, the highest mark. That's an increase of one percent on the previous year.

Furthermore, 32 percent of Northern Irish students received an A grade, which was just over two percent higher than the previous year.

In a regular year, minus a pandemic, Northern Irish students compare favourably to students in England and Wales, having a higher median grade than their counterparts across the sea.

The CCEA CEO Justin Edwards said that the approach of moderated grades “delivered grades to students which we predict they would have achieved had they sat an examination and which carry the same value as previous years."

“Northern Ireland students have seen slight increases across grades, which are comparable with previous year on year performance for this particular age group," he added.


However, much like the case of Scotland, there are already calls to scrap moderated grades in the issue of fairness.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) has said that the government needs to admit they've gotten their approach "badly wrong".

"The Government needs to accept it has got this badly wrong, stop trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat and keep things simple by using teacher predictions - as happened in Scotland.”

In a similar vein, Larissa Kennedy, president of the National Union of Students, also remarked that the moderated grades should be scrapped, citing the three percent of students whose were downgraded by two grades.

"Scrap moderated grades, moving to give all students their teacher assessed grades.

"We must look at what this will mean for individual students without such action, many of whom will miss out on opportunities to attend the university of their choice because of this process.

"For 3% of students to have had their results downgraded by two grades means that there will be thousands of students receiving results that are no reflection of their true ability.”

Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson went on ITV's This Morning in order to explain the processes behind the grade moderation. However, Williamson was confronted by Christine Cunniffe, the headmistress of a school in Ascot, who believed that it wasn't the right time for "checks and balances" when it came to education.

First Scotland felt the wrath of moderated grades, now Northern Ireland, Wales and England have. It doesn't bode well for the Leaving Certificate results on September 7...

SEE ALSO: Scottish School Results Scandal A Worrying Sign For Leaving Cert Results

Sean Meehan

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