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Ruane warning on tests of AQE

20-06-2008

Ruane warning on tests of AQE
20/06/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Education minister Caitriona Ruane has written to all grammar schools expressing concern about plans for new entrance tests.

Under the guidance of the Association of Quality Education (AQE), 30 schools say they are introducing new academic tests to continue selecting top-performing pupils after the 11-plus ends.

The group said its new 'common entrance assessment' (CEA) was required because Ms Ruane had "declined to produce a satisfactory alternative".

The minister, while proposing a transitional transfer test for three more years, wants to end all forms of academic selection.

Samples of questions that would be asked of children in CEA tests were sent to primary schools this week.

The CEA, which schools say would be introduced next year, will consist of three one-hour papers, similar in format to the 11-plus.

Days before the details were published, Ms Ruane wrote to grammar schools saying she was disappointed that the AQE was "continuing to pursue such an unhelpful course of action".

"The operation by schools of independent procedures for academic selection is a prospect fraught with administrative and legal perils," she wrote.

"Should any school proceed with the AQE's proposal, it will not only need to fund the test itself, using resources that I would argue could be better used for young people's education, but it must also be sure that it can independently manage the host of risks, pressures and challenges that will accompany the test."

Ms Ruane said she would not fund, facilitate or "in any way support" the breakaway test.

"Nor will I allow any interference with the smooth running of primary schools or the delivery of the revised curriculum," she said.

In Britain, children's secretary Ed Balls launched an outspoken attack on academic selection.

In a speech to head teachers, he said selection left pupils who missed out on grammar school places feeling like failures.

"Let me make it clear that I don't like selection. I accept though that selection is a local decision for parents and local authorities," he said.

"But I do not accept that children in secondary moderns should be left to fall behind."

 

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