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Education minister urged to retain 11 plus


11/11/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: UTV News

Stormont Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has faced calls to retain the 11-plus transfer test until a proven alternative is identified.

Extending the life of the controversial selection exam, which is due to be axed next year, would help to ease parental concern about the ongoing political impasse over the future of post-primary transfer procedures, according to the Ulster Unionists.

While the Sinn Fein minister has proposed the phasing out of academic selection over the next four years, using a newly designed test during that period, she has yet to gain the backing of the Assembly, with unionists fiercely opposing her.

With no agreement in place, current year six pupils still do not know for certain how they will transfer to secondary education.

While Ms Ruane hopes the interim test designed by exam board CCEA will be in place for 2009, a number of Protestant and Catholic grammar schools have signalled their intent to go it alone and introduce their own entrance exams.

Ulster Unionist Education spokesman Basil McCrea (Lagan Valley) tabled a motion before the Assembly urging Ms Ruane to keep the 11-plus in place until a resolution is found.

He said it did not make sense to try to introduce the CCEA test without having properly piloted and tested it.

Last week the four main churches in Northern Ireland called on politicians to reach an agreement and proposed a selection exam at the age of 14 as a possible compromise solution.



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