Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Wednesday, 26 September 2012 17:01 UK

GCSE changes

MLAs expressed concern about the effect on Northern Ireland students of the replacement of GCSE examinations in England, on 1 October 2012.

Westminster's Education Secretary Michael Gove announced on 17 September 2012 his plans to replace GCSEs in England with a new qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBacc).

Michelle McIlveen of the DUP said the summer just passed had been one of "turmoil" for GCSEs.

She called on the Education Minister to ensure that "no disadvantage is allowed to develop" for Northern Ireland students due to the introduction of the EBacc.

Ms McIlveen said there was a fear among teachers that "the GCSE brand has been devalued".

Chris Hazzard of Sinn Fein criticised Michael Gove for favouring "three hour memory tests".

He referred to the EBacc as "archaic".

Ulster Unionist Danny Kinahan said it was important "to ensure that the exams we are taking are well-respected by everyone".

He said the purpose of his party's amendment was "to highlight where we really fail - numeracy and literacy".

Sean Rogers of the SDLP described the introduction of the EBacc as "a change for change's sake rather than what is best for our children".

Alliance MLA Kieran McCarthy welcomed the review of GCSEs and A Levels announced by the Education Minister, John O'Dowd, adding that he was not sure that CCEA (Council for the Curriculum Examinations & Assessment) was the right body to carry out the review.

Replying to the debate, Mr O'Dowd said he was "disappointed" by the manner in which Michael Gove had "chosen not to consult with me or my colleague in Wales".

"Michael Gove in a sense produced his own educational Home Rule Bill," he added.

The minister said it was important that qualifications were "transferable, robust and recognisable".

The motion was passed with the UUP amendment.

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