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Commenting on the statement delivered by Minister of Education Peter Weir today in relation to the cancellation of GCSE, AS and A2 Level exams in 2021, Dr Patrick Roach, General Secretary of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, said:

“In the context of the current lockdown, the level of disruption already experienced by pupils, and the Executive’s handling of the pandemic over the last nine months has left no other option than the cancelling of exams this summer.

“However, we cannot risk a repeat of the chaos that engulfed exam results last summer.

“Pupils and teachers now need urgent clarity and further detail of how the arrangements for teacher assessed grades will be made workable.

“The Executive has lost the confidence of many pupils, parents and teachers after last year’s debacle and it will be critical that the arrangements for how pupils’ skills and knowledge are to be assessed and graded are transparent, urgently communicated and, vitally, that they ensure fairness for all pupils.

“Teachers are already under incredible amounts of pressure as a result of the Executive’s chronic mismanagement of the pandemic. The arrangements adopted for assessing pupils’ grades must be developed in consultation with the profession and must keep workload and bureaucracy to a minimum.”

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official for Northern Ireland, said:

“The Minister’s responsibilities in relation to exams do not end at GCSE and A-Level. The Minister must intervene and end the uncertainty around the transfer test for this year. The Minister cannot simply wash his hands of the issue on the basis that the tests are ‘run by a private organisation’. All schools using the test are publicly funded and very much lie within the remit of the Minister.

“Health and Safety must come first; deferring the date of the transfer test is simply deferring the difficult decisions that inevitably will have to be made. It is time for the Minister to act and stop the transfer test for this year.”

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