This section provides information on the qualifications system in Northern Ireland.

Performance Measures/NI Entitlement Framework Qualifications Accreditation Number (NIEFQAN) 

All qualifications that have been approved for use in schools in Northern Ireland will appear in the NIEFQAN file.  The NIEFQAN file shows details of GCSE Guided Learning Hours (GLHs) size equivalences for level 1 and level 2 qualifications, and A-level Guided Learning Hours (GLHs) size equivalences for qualifications at level 3.  

The system is designed to enable schools to report their performance.   The information on GLHs/size equivalency applies only to the allocation of school performance points. 

It is not intended for use in relation to the equivalency of qualifications for employment and/or further/higher education purposes.

The 2024/25 NIEFQAN file is now available to schools.  This NIEFQAN file lists all qualifications which have been approved for use in schools and which are available to teach in the 2024/25 academic year. 

Qualifications which are available for teaching this year (2023/24) but which will be closed to new learners next academic year (2024/25) will not be listed on this NIEFQAN file. These qualifications will still be available for teaching up until their certification end date. It may be the case that some schools are in the midst of completing these qualifications and will be certificating later in the year or indeed the next year.  Systems will be in place to allow schools to enter results for qualifications up until the certification end date of the qualification. 

DE Circular 2023/16 sets out the process and criteria which are applied to approve qualifications for use in Post-primary schools in NI. It also provides details on how the NIEFQAN file should be used.

Qualifications Support Programme 2022/23 – Funding Allocations

In June 2022, the Minister announced a package of measures in relation to CCEA qualifications in 2022/23. This included a £2M investment in a Qualifications Support Programme to further support students preparing for public examinations in 2022/23.

The programme is primarily designed to provide support for Year 12 pupils, but with some flexibility to provide support for pupils in other exam years. The allocations have been calculated on the basis of Year 12 enrolments in each school. A list of individual funding allocations to post-primary schools for the period September 2022 to March 2023 is available via the link below:

There are separate arrangements in place for Special Schools and EOTAS settings.

Qualifications Support Programme - Funding Guidance and Key Principles

Programme funding guidance and key principles, including the monitoring and evaluation arrangements, can be accessed via the following link

Arrangements for awarding CCEA qualifications in 2023

On 21 June 2022, the Education Minister Michelle McIlveen outlined arrangements for awarding CCEA qualifications in 2023.

The Minister also announced a £2million Qualifications Support Programme to further support pupils preparing for exams next year.

In Summer 2023, across all CCEA GCSE, AS and A Level qualifications, young people will be provided with advance information on the focus of assessment for each qualification.

The Minister has written to schools, parents and pupils providing further information in relation to this announcement.

The Minister’s statement and letters to schools, parents and pupils are available at:

Joint Council for Qualifications - JCQCIC

JCQCIC is the organisation representing the awarding bodies offering the majority of qualifications on offer in the UK. It helps the awarding bodies to create common standards and guidance on issues such as access arrangements and special consideration. Further details can be found at:

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