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GCSE delay threatens chaos

10-08-2009

Irish News

A delay in the release of this month’s GCSE results is threatening to plunge schools into chaos ahead of the new term.

Pupils will only learn all their exam grades days before they are due to return to classes after the summer holidays.

This leaves little time to make alternative arrangements if students fail to get the grades required to progress to A-level study.

Principals have criticised the late publication as bad planning with one adding that it will create an “administrative nightmare” for their schools.

The north’s exams board – the CCEA – said it spotted the problem and requested that boards in England and Wales agree a change in publication date.

However, this was refused.

Results of CCEA papers will be issued on Tuesday August 25 but thousands of pupils also sit papers set by boards elsewhere.

English and Welsh board results will only be posted on Thursday August 27, with schools due to reopen on Tuesday September 1.

For the last few years results have been released at least one clear week before the end of August.

This normally gives schools and pupils adequate time to finalise their arrangements.

This year they say there is only a narrow window of opportunity to spot and rectify mistakes.

Many grammar schools require their pupils to meet minimum GCSE thresholds to be allowed back for A-levels.

Those who fail to make the grade are often refused a place and must find a new school or college place.

Students at Lumen Christi College in Derry must attain seven GCSEs at grade C while those at Loreto College in Coleraine require at least three Bs and two Cs.

Jim Sheerin, principal of St Mary’s Christian Brothers Grammar School in west Belfast, said he was unhappy with the situation.

“It’s an administrative nightmare for us,” he said.

“It also impacts negatively on our ability to work with and offer current appropriate guidance to our students especially those who do not achieve the criteria for A-level.”

A CCEA spokeswoman said the date for the issue of GCSE results varied each year within a range of several days relating to the August bank holiday.

This year, results were being issued “at the late end of the normal range of possible dates”, she said.

Following discussions with schools and colleges, however, CCEA agreed to make its own results available electronically on the morning of Monday August 24.

“Schools and colleges may give candidates access to CCEA GCSE results from August 25,” the spokeswoman said.

“Hard-copy results will be issued to candidates on August 27.

“In 2009 the awarding bodies in England and Wales were unwilling to put similar arrangements in place.”

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