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GCSE Provision: AQA/OCR

Oral Answers to Questions — Education – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Fearghal McKinney Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:15 pm, 19th January 2016

T4. Mr McKinney asked the Minister of Education for an update on the AQA and OCR exam board decisions not to offer GCSE subjects to students here. (AQT 3354/11-16)

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

AQA has confirmed in writing that it will no longer provide qualifications here. OCR has indicated verbally but has not provided any written confirmation to date that it is not prepared to provide the qualifications required by our system.

Photo of Fearghal McKinney Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic and Labour Party

In that context, what assurances can the Minister give that all subjects currently offered will continue to be available post September 2016 and that no student will be disproportionately impacted by those decisions?

Photo of John O'Dowd John O'Dowd Sinn Féin

As part of my deliberations on the decision to remain with A* to G grading, it was always in the back of my mind that what are referred to as the English qualification bodies may remove their services. That has been the case. Planning has been in place for a period of time in preparation for such a statement coming about. I hope to be in a position to communicate directly with schools this week or early next week on the plans in place. I assure the Member that none of our students will be disadvantaged as a result of what is a commercial decision by one of the awarding bodies. We await written confirmation from the other.