Northern Ireland

NI exams regulator to review grading of GCSE and A-level language papers

Photo of girl doing an exam paper
Image caption A similar review of grading was carried out in England

The Northern Ireland exams board CCEA is to investigate whether GCSE and A-level languages are marked too severely.

CCEA's review is in response to concerns from schools that it is harder to receive high marks in language exams.

It follows a similar review of grading in England carried out by Qfqual.

It concluded that French and German GCSE exams in England should be marked less severely from 2020.

The vast majority of students in Northern Ireland sit GCSEs in French, German, Spanish and Irish through CCEA.

Those exams were not included in the Qfqual review.

As a result, the Department of Education has commissioned CCEA to carry out a similar review of GCSE and A-level grading in Northern Ireland.

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Image caption The number of students studying modern languages in NI has declined in recent years

A CCEA spokesperson said its review would consider Ofqual's findings.

"In recent years, there has been an overall decline in the numbers of pupils studying modern language qualifications at GCSE and A-Level in Northern Ireland and across the UK," they said.

"It is important to establish why students are choosing to take one subject over another and, indeed, why schools are opting to offer particular subjects."

A recent study by the British Council found there had been a fall of more than 40% in the number of pupils in Northern Ireland taking GCSE French over the past decade.

That followed a BBC survey which suggested more than a third of schools in Northern Ireland had stopped offering French, German or Spanish at GCSE in the past five years.

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