Education Minister Peter Weir.
Pupils receiving GCSE results on Thursday will be awarded grades based on teacher predictions, the Department of Education has announced.
All candidates who took examinations awarded by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) will receive results solely based on the estimates provided by schools and colleges.
CCEA provides around 97 per cent of GCSE examinations in Northern Ireland, but students who have taken GCSEs via other awarding bodies in England and Wales will be graded according to the approach of those organisations.
Education Minister Peter Weir said a lack of previous public examination outcomes was a factor in the decision.
"Having received advice from CCEA and listened to the concerns of school leaders, teachers, parents and young people, I have decided that all GCSE candidates will now be awarded the grades submitted by their centre," he said.
"Unlike A-Level, many GCSE pupils will not have access to previous public examination outcomes to inform any appeals process.
"I have, therefore, acted now in advance of the publication of GCSE results to ease anxieties, reassure young people and their families and ensure that every individual candidate receives a grade that recognises the work they have done.
"All of our young people have shown incredible resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope that our GCSE pupils will now move forward confidently to their next step in education, employment or training with the qualifications that teachers or lecturers have judged were deserved.
"I want to send my very best wishes to everyone who receives their GCSE results on Thursday."
Peter Friel, principal of St Pius X College, Magherafelt, welcomed the move.
"It's a direction of travel I hope the minister now takes regarding the results last week as well, to put this sorry situation to bed once and for all," he told BBC Radio Ulster.
"Considering what has been going on in a global pandemic over the last few months I can't help wonder was there not some things we could have done to mitigate this level of anxiety and concern?
"I know an awful lot is beyond the minister and all of our controls, but some of the controllables could perhaps have been controlled a little better.
"I hope it is a relief to the young people involved."
There will however, be no u-turn on AS and A2 results from the Minister, who says he is 'monitoring the outcome of appeals'.
"With regards to A levels and AS qualifications, unlike GCSEs, they were standardised on the basis of candidates’ prior performance in public examinations," he added.
"I would encourage those pupils dissatisfied with their result to contact their school or college to work through the appeals process which is free this year.
"As the appeals process is now underway, I am monitoring the outcome of appeals very closely to ensure that fair results are restored. CCEA has advised that extra resources are already being deployed to ensure that as part of a robust process the appeals will be dealt with both efficiently and effectively."
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