GCSE reform: “It is unlikely that the Minister’s decision on this issue would stop the current position…”

In June this year the UK Government’s Education Secretary, Michael Gove, welcomed Ofqual’s proposals for making changes for GCSE courses and, on 27 September, a consultation was launched on changes to the current GCSE specifications in England

Today the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd, launched a consultation on on making the same changes to current GCSE specifications here.  In England the consultation ends on 4 November, here it continues until 30 December.

According to the Northern Ireland consultation document [pdf file]

It is unlikely that the Minister’s decision on this issue would stop the current position whereby English (and Welsh) awarding organisations offer GCSEs here. The main implications will be for the local awarding body and, depending on the direction taken by the DE Minister, CCEA will have to review the nature of the GCSEs it offers.


As the NI consultation document also notes

England, Wales and the north of Ireland operate a 3-country qualifications system – we have the same qualifications and the regulators work together to ensure there are common standards across all 3 jurisdictions. This means pupils taking exams here can have their qualifications easily recognised and understood by universities and employers if they wish to go to study or work in England, Wales or the south of Ireland, and vice-versa.

To be consistent shouldn’t that last line read ‘England, Wales or the north of Ireland’?

[Or even Northern Ireland? – Ed]  That might have avoided the error completely…

ANYhoo…  In Wales, on 29 September, two days after the launch of the English consultation, they apparently announced “a wide ranging review of all qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds in Wales”.  And that seems to have been the only response to date there.

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  • Tintin010

    One of the proposals is to end modular exams and replace these with the terminal system of assessment. Modules are much friendly to pupils, they reflect the format used at third level and I believe that because the pupils have the opportunity to repeat exams they review their mistakes and learn much more in the long run. It also helps children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who don’t have pressure at home to study, to realise the benefits of study, and improve.

    Therefore, why on earth would we want to move away from this method. In my view it’s a Tory attempt to create an old inaccessible system that favors the top tiers in society.

  • BluesJazz

    Northern Ireland has little choice here. They have to follow England or opt out of GCSE’s like Scotland. DENI are pretending they have a choice here, but ultimately, with perhaps some minor tweaking, Stormont will rubber stamp Westminsters decision.

    Coursework was laughably easy and open to abuse. External assessment by examination is the only sure method of testing.

    There are loads of soft subjects that are easy to pass anyway for dopey people. So they can still be catered for.

    For clarity though, the dopey subjects should be tagged CSE and proper subjects tagged O level.

  • Tintin010

    “There are loads of soft subjects that are easy to pass anyway for dopey people. So they can still be catered for”

    Not sure if I agree with the language used but one of the intentions is to put all GCSE’s on par, which I probably agree needs to happen. Bye bye Learning for life and work!!

  • Granni Trixie

    And what would “dopey subjects” be (prey tell, to show yourself up).

  • Tintin010

    State one example of a fast food.

    I saw this question on a LLW exam, hahah. Bluzzjaz has a point

  • BluesJazz

    ‘Learning for life and work’ would indeed be a ‘less academic’ subject tintin, and it prepares it’s pupils for the opposite.
    Anything with the appendage ‘Studies’ is usually a sign of sloppy, makeit up as we go along thinking.

    Media, business, film, etc

    If it has the word Applied in the title….

    I could go on….

  • Cynic2


    1 Prince Charles is desperate to meet Marty (we are told by SF) but the principled Mr O’Dowd of SF says its too soon after all those years of oppression for them to grant a mere Prince such an audience

    2 Its not too soon to accept Ministerial Salaries in a British Administration in ‘the north if Irleand’ (ie the British bit) following the IRA’s capitulation and the failure of its war

    3 When it comes to the nub, the Minister’s real power in his own policy backyard is effectively dictated by policy in the greater UK of which we are a part

    It’s all like the plot of some surreal BBC Sit Com on BBC3 and written by media studies trainees on a Scriptwriting 1.1 Course

  • BluesJazz

    The qualifications system in England, Wales and NI is copperfastened. Scotland and the Irish Republic have an almost identical system, but it would mean a mammoth task for NI to reform that way. So the attempt to involve the Republic’s dept in any consultation would be meaningless on any practical level. It’s petty cover for the fact Westminster Rules OK!. The ‘north of Ireland’ insert into what is essentially a Whitehall document is just childish.
    All the above documentation simply shows the impotence of local parish politics toward the National government policy. Quite amusing watching the pretence though.