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Ruane reveals transfer plans


04/12/2007 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Education minister Caitriona Ruane will today make a long-awaited announcement about a replacement for the 11-plus - proposing children make key choices at 14.

Stormont sources last night said Ms Ruane would confirm there will be no more transfer tests after next year.

Decisions on what type of school is suited to a pupil will instead be taken at age 14.

Parties are eagerly awaiting an indication of the exact model Ms Ruane has in mind - with the assembly split on whether a form of academic selection should be retained.

Selection at a later age is used in the Craigavon area under the Dickson plan.

Dr Jack Dickson established 'junior highs' to which every child transfers from primary school until the age of 14.

Pupils are streamed over a three-year period according to their abilities, with advocates arguing that it allows more time to gauge ability before being selected for grammar-type schools.

However, while this system delays testing until a less traumatic age, Ms Ruane has insisted she does not want to replace one form of selection by ability with another.

She spoke recently of the importance of finding a way of matching educational system with children's needs.

"At the moment, children must sit two one-hour tests at a very young age," she said.

"I would prefer that children make their selection at 14. Our young people naturally make choices at that age. It is at that age that children decide whether to choose maths or science or which vocational courses they should take.

"There are some very innovative models and there is collaboration between schools. Rather than make a political football of the issue, people should work to create a system that best meets the needs of all our children so that no child is left feeling that they are a failure."

She pledged to bring forward proposals "offer all children equal access to a quality post-primary education".



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