Weir outlines plans for exams and assessments in 2021/22

Date published: 17 May 2021

Education Minister, Peter Weir has announced a return to public examinations during the next academic year.

Arrangements for CCEA qualifications 2022
Arrangements for CCEA qualifications 2022

Young people will, however, have fewer examinations in 2022 and there will be significant reductions in assessment across the range of CCEA qualifications.

Speaking in the Assembly, Peter Weir said: “I am pleased today to bring forward a clear plan for qualifications in 2022, in advance of the start of the next academic year.  I hope this timely announcement and the comprehensive package of measures I have put in place will provide school leaders, teachers, parents and, most importantly, young people with the clarity and reassurance they need.

“I am announcing a roadmap for a return to public examinations for all CCEA Qualifications in 2022.  A planned return to public examinations is not, however, a return to business as usual. 

“I am mindful of the need to consider our young people’s mental health and well-being; the many difficulties they have faced with great resilience; and the significant disruption to their learning during not one but two academic years.

“In light of this, I have decided that young people will have significantly fewer examinations next year and I am today announcing a package of significant reductions in assessment across the range of CCEA qualifications.”

A unit of study will be omitted from the vast majority of GCSE, AS and A Level qualifications in 2022.  Unit omissions will also be applied across CCEA Entry Level, Occupational Studies and Vocationally Related qualifications.

Commenting further the Minister said: “I am very conscious that our young people have faced incredible challenges as a result of this pandemic. In making these adaptations to examinations, we will ensure that their lives are not defined or held back by the disruption they have experienced.

“I want to publicly thank each and every teacher, school leader, Governor and all the other vital support staff that work in and around our schools, for their incredible efforts.  They have dealt with a wide range of difficult and exceptional issues. Thanks to their efforts our children have been able to return to school and continue their education.”

Details of changes to qualifications will be available on the CCEA website from early June 2021.

Notes to editors: 


1. Link to the Minister’s statement is available here: Ministerial statement - CCEA Qualifications 2022 | Department of Education (

2. Further information including a fact sheet and an FAQ is available here:

3. The key elements of the announcement are as follows:

  • Assessment of a unit of study will be omitted from the vast majority of GCSE, AS and A Level qualifications in 2022.  The unit will be specified by CCEA
  • At A and AS Level in a number of practical subjects, where omission of a unit would take away assessment of practical skills or alternatively all external examinations, the content of internal assessment tasks will be reduced rather than a unit being omitted. 
  • A candidate who wishes to take all examinations can do so.  There is no obligation to do so. Any candidate who sits all units will be awarded the higher grade from either all units or the mandatory units only.
  • CCEA A Level awards in 2022 will be made on the basis of candidates’ performance in their A2 examinations only. 
  • The usual January examination series for GCSE English and Mathematics will be moved forward to December 2021 due to the public health context.
  • Examination aids will be provided for GCSE Mathematics for all candidates for use in both the autumn 2021 and summer 2022 examination series.
  • CCEA will also provide a GCSE teaching order for those pupils starting GCSE courses from September 2021, which will make it easier to make changes if needed.

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5. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office at .

6. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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