SDLP Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin has called on education minister Peter Weir to act over A level results, after schools, teachers, parents and pupils all complained about widespread discrepancies between pupils’ expected A and AS results and the grades actually awarded by exam boards.
“I have had pupils and parents in tears on the phone to me and my office this morning,” she said. “The exam boards have discounted and downgraded teachers’ assessments of pupils predicated grades. This is unacceptable, has reduced the future options for many school leavers and caused immense distress. Teachers’ assessments should have been trusted much more than they have been. Education minister Peter Weir must intervene and do so urgently.”
SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan MLA also expressed his concern and disappointment at reports from young people that their grades were unfair and inaccurate. He has urged Minister Weir to ensure a robust appeals process is in place.
The West Tyrone MLA added: “This is a highly stressful time for pupils across the North and their families. The failure of CCEA to remove the contentious standardisation from the grading process and the subsequent failure of the Education Minister to act has compounded that stress. It is not good enough.
“The SDLP first raised these issues with CCEA and the Department of Education many months ago. They have been aware of these issues since April and utterly failed to act, at the expense of our young people.
"It is unacceptable and frankly disgraceful that our children have been left subject to a postcode lottery in relation to their exam results. This is about the future of our children and there can be no room for inequality or unfairness.
“The grading systems used must not be allowed to disadvantage high-achieving pupils from areas of deprivation. Standardisation cannot be allowed to become a euphemism for discrimination against working class children - even unintentionally. It is a crude and ineffective tool and has no place in a modern, fair education system.
“It is clear the Minister should never have let this situation escalate and the standardisation tool should have been put in the bin many months ago. However, Minister Weir must now act urgently to ensure the appeals process is robust and allows young people the opportunity to challenge grades they are deeply disappointed with.
“The Minister must also compel CCEA to publish the modelling and calculation process used to determine grades this year, to allow young people all the information they need to see if their grade is fair, accurate and reflective of their ability.
“I want to apologise to school children right across the North, particularly those getting A-Level grades today and GCSE grades next week. You have been put in an intolerably difficult position and I am sorry that this failure was allowed to happen. This is not your fault and we have got your back.
“The SDLP will continue to fight for grades to be restored, based on teachers judgement, and without the crude bias of the standardisations tool.”
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