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Minister's hints over successor to 11-plus

14-11-2007

Belfast Telegraph

The Education Minister has given her clearest indication yet of what system will replace the 11-plus when it is axed next year.

Time is running out for Caitriona Ruane to announce the replacement for the current transfer test but, to date, she has refused to give a definitive answer.

However, last night the future of Ulster grammar schools was under threat as Ms Ruane gave her strongest hint to date that academic selection will be scrapped next year.

Pressure is growing on the Minister to open the subject up to debate by the Assembly's Education Committee by revealing the options currently under consideration by her Department.

On Friday, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that Ms Ruane looks likely to plump for a transfer model which allows pupils to make their own educational choices at age 14 without academic testing.

Such a system could see pupils attending their closest school until the age of 14 when they would select what school to attend according to whether they wish to follow an academic or vocational pathway.

And in response to a question put forward by Education Committee member Dominic Bradley regarding the progress made to date on formulating the new transfer process, the Minister said she believes that children are too young to make subject choices before the age of 14.

She said: "Since coming into office I have listened to as many views as possible on the merits of different forms of transfer.

"As a result of this I am convinced of the need for a system which matches pupils to provision and not to types of school, which places the child at the centre of the transfer process, and which recognises that 14 is an age when children are ready to choose a path that best meets their needs and abilities."

Any move to introduce a system that does not rely on academic selection is likely to met with opposition from the pro-grammar school lobby.

 

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