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CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Examinations cancelled as Minister reveals Education plan

Children of 'key workers' will still be able to attend school.

CORONAVIRUS LATEST: Examinations cancelled as Minister reveals Education plan

Education Minister Peter Weir.

No GCSE, AS or A Level exams will take place in Northern Ireland this year, with a combination of other methods used to award grades.

Education Minister Peter Weir announced the move in a letter to schools this afternoon.

He said: “We will not proceed with GCSEs, AS and A levels this summer.

“Our priority will be to ensure that students receive fair results that reflect their hard work and enable judgements to be made about progression to study or employment or other avenues.

“The plan is to use a combination of prior achievements, internal teacher-assessed tracking information, predicted grades and analysis and modelling of existing data trends to provide the necessary assurance about the robustness, accuracy and fairness of the grades being awarded.”

Mr Weir also announced plans to facilitate ‘vulnerable children and those whose parents were critical to the Covid-19 response and who would have no other option but to supervise them at home.

He said: “Key workers are those who are maintaining essential public services during the Covid-19 response.

“My officials are working urgently to develop detailed operational arrangements so that schools can remain open on Monday 23 March and beyond for the children of key workers, whose parents need them to be in an educational setting so that they can perform their vital jobs.

“In doing so, we will work with all education settings to ensure compliance with the public health guidance in their premises.”

“A full list of key worker categories will be published tomorrow. Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home.”

Employees also received some reassurance around their salaries, with pay to remain as normal for all staff.

He said: “All employees will receive normal pay across the range of circumstances that we are facing whether they remain in the workplace, are working from home or are unable to carry on working due to circumstances beyond their control.

“Substitute teachers and non-teaching staff (including temporary and fixed term employees) will also receive their normal pay for the period of time that they have been engaged to work.”

Funding for nursery education also remains intact, including some Sure Start provision, and existing statutory and community youth partnerships will continue, but voluntary youth provision will cease.

Minister Weir said: “Youth services will seek to continue to provide for those young people who are vulnerable and most in need of services, on a bespoke basis.

“The Education Authority Youth Service will take forward key actions, which includes providing support to these young people through existing statutory and community partnerships.

“Salaries for all staff who work in these settings will continue as normal, including those paid daily or providing planned substitute cover.” 

The letter also indicated Mr Weir’s would work with the Department for Communities and Department of Health to ensure free school meals and support for vulnerable children remained in place.

The Minister praised the work that had already taken place in schools to prepare for a period of remote learning and urged the continuation of the work.

He added: “We will be continuing to engage with school leaders, the trade unions and school managing authorities to refine these arrangements in the days and weeks ahead.”

Full text of the letter can be found here.

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