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30,000 pupils get GCSEs results

Simon Doyle Education Correspondent s.doyle@irishnews.com

THOUSANDS of pupils will today be jumping for joy or simply keeping their feet on the ground as GCSE results are released.

An estimated 30,000 Northern Ireland students will be poring over results slips while working out if their grades represent the springboard to A-levels or the end of their school career.

The total number of entries is expected to have fallen slightly from last year, mainly due to a decline in the overall number of pupils.

While there have been no changes to the GCSE system in the north, numerous factors are expected to have an impact on results in England.

Most pupils in the north take papers set by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) but many schools also opt for exams offered by English boards.

In England, all GCSEs are now taken in a linear fashion - meaning exams are taken at the end of the course instead of in bite-sized chunks.

Speaking and listening no longer contributes toward the final grade in English, a change that was made mid-course for those receiving results this summer.

GCSE geography was also strengthened in England, in the same way science was strengthened previously. These subjects were never weakened by CCEA.

While it is unlikely these changes will affect the overall results picture across Britain and Northern Ireland, there is a concern in England that it might lead to volatility of results in individual schools or subjects.

The only factor that might impact on Northern Ireland pupils is the introduction of linear-only exams by English awarding bodies.

However, as approximately three-quarters of GCSE entries in the north are with CCEA, any impact is likely to be small, if any at all.

CCEA will be operating an exams helpline - 028 9026 1260 - between 9am and 5pm until Friday August 29.

"Results day is an important time for students, their families and schools. At CCEA we would like to reassure all those awaiting results that there is help at hand should you need guidance or assistance," CCEA examinations manager Michael Crossan said.

The NASUWT union said the GCSE results would be a reflection of the hard work put in by pupils and teachers "forced to cope with a totally unnecessary upheaval in the GCSE qualification system".

"No doubt some commentators will be rushing to applaud the rein-troduction of 'rigour' into the GCSE qualification, despite the fact that there was never any evidence to support the false claims perpetuated by the coalition government that GCSEs had been dumbed-down and were of diminishing value in the out-side world," general secretary Chris Keates said.

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