Equipping today’s learners for tomorrow’s world

Qualifications are changing and the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) is leading the way in ensuring Northern Ireland’s GCSEs and A levels are of the highest quality, relevant and forward looking.


CCEA is in the process of revising our A level and GCSE courses; with revised A levels delivered to schools in time for teaching in September 2016 and revised GCSEs introduced a year later in September 2017.


This is an opportunity to build qualifications that continue to be modern, high quality and fit for purpose. Shaped by employers and the teaching workforce, the review also presents a chance to develop specifications that equip our young people for a very different and fast changing workplace.


An essential part of the qualifications reform journey will be to ensure that our GCSEs and A levels continue to be highly regarded by universities and employers, and continue to provide access to jobs and further and higher education within and beyond Northern Ireland.


CCEA has already enlisted and briefed teams of highly qualified subject experts to write our new A level and GCSE qualifications. At every stage of the revision process we are engaging with stakeholders, including teaching professionals, business and industry representatives, and experts from higher education here and from other jurisdictions.


CCEA’s accreditation and regulation team will work closely with regulatory colleagues across the UK, university admissions offices and the Department of Education to ensure that our GCSE and A level qualifications continue to be of comparable standard to those on offer elsewhere.


In June, CCEA met with representatives from the Russell Group of Universities in Edinburgh. We left that meeting having assured those present that CCEA specifications are undergoing a rigorous formal accreditation process and that the content of the specifications is similar across the regions and has had input from higher education.


Today’s learners, the post millennial generation, are very different to their predecessors. They are growing up digitally connected and are surrounded by digital technology and media from across the globe. They do not wait to ask someone for an answer, they search the internet. Books are downloaded, research and study is aided by global online resources, communication is through social media and smartphones and tablets are easily accessible.


It is CCEA’s role to ensure that we provide the right qualifications to best fit the modern digital age. This thinking is at the core of the revision process — developing GCSEs and A levels that are relevant, stimulating and equip today’s learners for their future. That is why we are also introducing new qualifications in areas such as digital technology and professional services, really responding to industry and replacing qualifications such as ICT.


CCEA’s mission is to enable the full potential of all learners to be achieved and recognised. The process of revising our GCSEs and A levels is an integral part of fulfilling that mission, placing the learner and their needs front and centre in the development of our revised specifications, while equipping them with the skills and knowledge for tomorrow’s world.


During the autumn of 2015 we will be involved in an intensive period of consultation on the future shape of our GCSE qualifications. We are keen to hear from those individuals and organisations across education, government, business, industry and wider society, who wish to contribute their knowledge and insights as part of this process.


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