Northern Ireland news

MLAs promise to raise young people's concerns

The video conference was organised by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum

YOUNG people are to be invited to share their anxiety about issues including cancelled exams with the assembly education committee.

Pupils due to take GCSEs, AS-levels, A-level and vocational exams this summer will instead receive predicted grades.

A group this week raised several issues with politicians during a video conference organised by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF).

They spoke about their unease over the allocation of exam grades, the lack of PPE equipment and testing in the community, the problem of fake news on social media, access to mental health services and the need for employment support.

The panel included education committee members Chris Lyttle from Alliance and Robbie Butler of the UUP.

They were told that pupils had worries about predicted grades. They asked for guidance on what to do if they disagreed with the grades awarded.

Mr Lyttle said there would be a robust appeals process in place and added that there were major concerns that AS-levels this year will not count towards the final A-level grade next year. The AS-level is worth 40 per cent.

He said he would welcome a delegation from NIYF at the education committee in the coming weeks.

The conference followed a survey by the NIYF that revealed that 73 per cent of young people felt that they needed access to more appropriate information relating to Covid-19.

"The young people got an opportunity to talk about what's on their minds and it is brilliant that political representatives have pledged to take action to get their voices heard," NIYF Participation Development Worker Natalie Corbett said.

"It is great that so many people could access the conference online and were able to contribute to the debate."

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