Despite the power to do so the DUP Education Minister, Peter Weir, has failed to address his predecessor’s break with United Kingdom parity in respect of academic standards.
Had he acted immediately, instead of buying time for the Northern Ireland Executive, Mr Weir could have adopted the United Kingdom model both in respect of the grading scale for examinations and longstanding concerns regarding coursework or so-called “controlled assessment”
It appears that the DUPs Yes Minister equivalent of Jim Hacker has been an easy victim of the green Blob’s civil servants in Rathgael House. The green Blob is Northern Ireland’s devolved version of the UK education establishment.
The text of the Newsletter Lead Letter
Are GCSE and GCE exam results between GB and N. Ireland comparable?
The answer regrettably, for the moment, is that it is too early to tell.
The general public must be careful not to assume that Peter Weir, by overturning the effective monopoly John O’Dowd granted CCEA over GCSE and GCE assessment in Northern Ireland, has done anything other than tinker at the edges of the problem bequeathed him by Sinn Fein. He seems to be a ‘Yes Minister’ captured by the green Blob, the entrenched education establishment
John O’Dowd’s break with UK parity in respect of academic standards goes beyond his expulsion of two of the largest UK awarding bodies, and presents huge technical difficulties in respect of standards. These could have been solved at a stroke had Peter Weir responded positively by cutting this Gordian knot and adopted the UK model both in respect of its grading scale and its concerns regarding coursework or so-called “controlled assessment.”
This action would have allowed Peter Weir to significantly scale down CCEA’s GCSE/GCE functions. Northern Ireland could simply “borrow” papers from larger awarding bodies and make the substantial savings available to hard-pressed schools.
Given the achievements of our schools in the recent GCSE and AS/A2 results, it is bizarre they now enter another time of uncertainty while CCEA – who act as their own qualifications regulator– fail to reconcile these two sets of standards. The technical difficulties are considerable; CCEA’s assessments differ in the role given to controlled assessment.
The public have a right to know precisely what CCEA’s Qualification Regulator, Roger McCune, means when he promises: “We will start work immediately on the technical implementation of the new grading and continue to ensure that our qualifications remain comparable to other similar qualifications elsewhere in the United Kingdom.”
The CCEA Regulator is confusing squares and circles.
Peter Weir stands in danger of being compared to Jim Hacker for his failure to master his opponents within the green Blob and refusal to act decisively during the first 100 days of a new administration.