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O’Dowd comments on decision to retain GCSEs

Education Minister, John ODowd, has commented following Michael Goves announcement today that he intends to retain GCSEs in England.
Thursday, 7 February 2013

Mr Gove had initially planned to replace the GCSE with the English Baccalaureate Certificate. He has however opted instead to retain GCSEs under the linear model – where exams are taken at the end of the course.

Mr O’Dowd said: “Yet again, Michael Gove has decided to make a decision on post-14 education that affects students in the north of Ireland and Wales without any form of consultation with the administrations here and in Cardiff. In the autumn he announced his proposals to abolish GCSEs without seeking our views and today he has announced that they will, in fact, be retained – again, without seeking our views. It is clear that Mr Gove has no interest in the operation of a three-jurisdiction agreement, despite the concordats that are in place.

“I am not against change if it makes sense. As the Minister responsible for education policy here, I am determined to make decisions that are in the best, long-term interests of learners.

“In order to protect those interests, I announced a fundamental review of GCSEs and A-Levels in October. That review is due to report to me by June at which point I will be able to make informed decisions on the way ahead.

“I am quite clear that I want a suite of qualifications that are robust, fair and portable. They must be credible in the eyes of employers and other education providers, including universities; while ensuring our learners are not disadvantaged against their peers across these islands. When I come to make my decisions, which will be well informed, I will ensure that the interests of all learners across the north are protected.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The Department of Education has launched a new ‘Education Works’ advertising campaign. The campaign encourages families to play, talk, read and count with their child and to ‘Get Involved Because Education Works’. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances. Visit nidirect website for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  2. View photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection.
  3. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.