‘Totally unacceptable’ - GCSE exams due take place on Monday but teachers claim they have not been told how to carry them out safely

The chair of the Stormont Education Committee has described as “totally unacceptable” a claim made by teachers in Northern Ireland that the Department of Education has not provided guidance on how best to invigilate in person examinations in an environment conducive to being labelled ‘Covid-safe’.
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At the very end of Wednesday’s meeting, SDLP MLA, Justin McNulty, said the teaching professionals he spoke to were concerned about the transmission of Covid-19.

“The teachers told me they have not received any guidance on how to carry out exams safely,” said Mr. McNulty.

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“They are unsure how they are to invigilate exams, for example, the handing out and collecting of exam papers and social distancing.

Justin McNulty MLA said the teachers he spoke to were concerned about the spread of Covid-19.Justin McNulty MLA said the teachers he spoke to were concerned about the spread of Covid-19.
Justin McNulty MLA said the teachers he spoke to were concerned about the spread of Covid-19.

“There are exams due to take place on Monday and I am hearing no guidance has been provided.”

Education Committee Chair, Chris Lyttle described the issue as “totally unacceptable” and explained he was “aware” of some schoolchildren due to sit GCSEs examinations next week but as per Covid-19 advice from the Public Health Agency (PHA) they will not be able to physically be at school to sit the examination.

“The fact that these exams are taking place at the beginning of next week makes this totally unacceptable,” he said.

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The committee agreed to send an urgent letter to Education Minister Peter Weir to ask what his department has put in place for invigilators to carry out exams safely and what has been put in place for students due to sit exams but are unable to do so as they are confined to their homes because of Covid-19.

The Department of Education has been contacted and asked if it would like to provide a response but at the time of publication it had not replied.