General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Schools to press on with own test


05/12/2007 :: Northern Ireland :: The Belfast Telegraph

Efforts to introduce a common entry test for grammar schools after the 11-plus is axed next year will go ahead, it was confirmed last night.

Earlier this week, the Belfast Telegraph revealed that a pro-academic lobby group has devised an alternative transfer test to replace the doomed 11-plus.

And last night, after the Education Minister confirmed her plans to get rid of academic selection in Northern Ireland schools, the Association for Quality Education reiterated that it is determined to protect the future of grammar schools across Northern Ireland.

Making her announcement to the Assembly yesterday, Caitriona Ruane acknowledged that some schools may not be prepared to introduce the new transfer system by 2010 - when pupils currently in primary five move into the post-primary school sector.

And while she said she is willing to work with schools concerned about the implementation of her plans, she said the Department of Education is not obliged to provide funding for any alternative transfer test.

However, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield from the AQE last night said the organisation will now move to finalise plans for the introduction of a common entry test for all interested grammar schools across the province.

He said the organisation would be taking these steps as a result of a failure by the minister to provide clarity on the issue.

"There are many unanswered questions in the statement that she has made.

"All I can say is that we know what is broadly in her mind - that there will be no academic selection and children will make their choices at 14 - but I don't think it is very well thought out, either in terms of cost or even whether it will be passed into law.

"We would like more clarity. The AQE will now be working to determine how many schools are prepared in principal to go along with the idea of a common entry test and will create a legal body to look at the cost and how the plans would be organised."



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