Ulster Unionist MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has said that the decision of the English GCSE exam providers to discontinue offering their exams in Northern Ireland is ‘nothing but the inevitable consequence of Sinn Fein Minister John O’Dowd’s recent decision not to follow changes to the grading system.’
Mrs Dobson said: “Students are the ultimate losers in this decision. Last November, when Minister O’Dowd made the announcement in the Assembly that Northern Ireland would not follow the grading changes in GCSEs being introduced in England, my party rightly warned that this could lead to the situation we now find ourselves in whereby the open market for GCSEs and therefore greater choice, could be ended.
“This is exactly what is happening. Effectively an unhealthy monopoly is being created for the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) in exam provision in Northern Ireland.
“This looks like little other than a deliberate decision by a politically driven Minister, to knock the big English providers out of the local exam market. This has left schools in an extremely difficult position, in terms of the GCSE courses they can offer to their students.
“I support the local School Principals who have rightly spoken out.
“The Executive should intervene because of the wider implications of the decision, however given that both Sinn Fein and the DUP are in agreement on this issue this seems sadly unlikely.”