Northern Ireland news

Stormont to be recalled over A-level results controversy

The Assembly Chamber in Parliament Buildings. Picture by Paul Faith/PA

THE Stormont assembly is set to be recalled from its summer recess to discuss the A-level results controversy.

Sinn Féin and Alliance yesterday backed the move after the SDLP called for recall last week.

Talks between the three parties over the weekend have seen the SDLP's original motion replaced with a new version.

A recall petition requires the signatures of 30 of the legislature's 90 MLAs.

The support of Sinn Féin and Alliance will guarantee the threshold is reached.

The petition calls for students to be awarded the highest A-level grade from three options: Their AS-level result; their teacher-predicted grade; or the grade they received last week through a controversial standardisation formula.

More than a third of A-level grades issued on Thursday were lower than teacher estimates, leaving many pupils shocked and disappointed.

Education minister Peter Weir has defended the mathematical model used to standardise the results and has ruled out solely using teacher grade predictions, saying they would lack credibility.

Overall the percentage of top grades allocated in 2020 was up on previous years.

Sinn Féin chief whip John O'Dowd said his party supported the agreed recall motion following "the absence of any necessary action by the minister".

"This is a sensible and responsible approach to finding a solution to the current difficulties," he said.

Alliance chief whip Kellie Armstrong said: "In June when I called for the assembly to shelve its normal summer recess plans it was exactly to avoid this kind of situation."

SDLP education spokesperson Daniel McCrossan last week said the grading system "needs corrected urgently now before we face a repeat with GCSE results".

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