‘Exam changes could prove positive for local students’

Stephen McCord, President of the Ulster Teachers' Union. INNT 15-507CON Pic by John Murphy, Aurora
Stephen McCord, President of the Ulster Teachers' Union. INNT 15-507CON Pic by John Murphy, Aurora
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A Newtownabbey teacher believes that Northern Ireland will be able to trade on its gold star academic reputation, thanks to proposed changes in the GCSE and A-Level systems.

Ballyclare man Stephen McCord, who is President of the Ulster Teachers’ Union - Northern Ireland’s biggest locally-based teaching union - believes Education Secretary Michael Gove’s swingeing changes proposed for exams for fifth and sixth formers could prove positive for local students.

“Of course we must ensure that our students are competing on a level playing field with their counterparts elsewhere in the UK when they come with their exam grades to gain entry to university,” Stephen said.

“But the reputation of Northern Ireland students and the academic excellence of results produced here go before us. The province has long been recognised both nationally and internationally as producing some of the best-performing students.”

He added: “By changing the GCSE and A-Level system in England, Mr Gove has said that both Wales and Northern Ireland can, in not so many words, go their own way, and I think we can use this to our advantage. He has done, potentially, us a favour.

“Why risk having our academic excellence being potentially diluted by the imposition of a new exam system from Westminster when we enjoy an enviable reputation in this area, thanks to the dedication in schools of teachers and principals and the hard work of students, as well as the support of their families.”