General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Still waiting for Ruane to clear the fog on transfers


20/03/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Belfast Telegraph

The Department of Education has confirmed that Caitriona Ruane has not yet posted the letter she promised to parents and schools in response to 'media scaremongering' over the time taken to finalise a new school transfer system.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph last month, the minister dismissed claims by other politicians of serious public concern over the time it is taking to finalise new schools admissions criteria. The last 11-plus test will be sat by pupils this autumn.

Ms Ruane claimed that the media was "scaremongering" on the issue and said she would write directly to all parents and teachers.

While refusing to divulge details on any definite timescale for full details on the criteria to be made public, the minister told the Telegraph: " Parents of children who are transferring to schools (in 2010) will have certainty in relation to admissions criteria and in time for their children to transfer.

"I have already said in general what the admissions criteria will be, so parents can be very clear about that. In general they will be based around community, geography and family, so there is no need to cause confusion when there isn't confusion.

"Some media are trying to create difficulties. I will be writing directly to all parents and teachers in schools given the scaremongering in the media."

However, following a query from the Telegraph, the department has confirmed that the letters have not yet been written.

Lumen Christi College in Londonderry has just revealed plans to set its own entrance tests to determine entry from 2010. The school said it will introduce a two-part aptitude test because of the lack of guidance from Caitriona Ruane.

Last week, the general secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union called on the minister to provide more information for parents and teachers.

Speaking at the UTU's annual conference, Avril Hall-Callaghan said: "At present there is just a void ahead beyond 2010.

"When there is an empty space then all sorts of rumours start to spread about what will fill it. The minister must act, and act sooner rather than later, to fill that vacuum."

She said that teachers need to know what lies ahead to prepare properly and also so they can inform parents.

In the recent Irish National Teachers' Organisation Printout magazine, northern committee chairperson Mary Cahillane also said that schools and teachers are "in the dark" about the 11-plus replacement.

"The minister may have a vision but a vague notional vision does not allow schools the time to prepare pupils or receive pupils," she said.



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