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School reveals new test arrangements


28/11/2008  ::  Northern Ireland  ::  News Letter

A Londonderry grammar school has outlined details of arrangements being made for a new test to replace the doomed 11-plus.

Foyle and Londonderry College this week held two sessions to provide an update on plans being made for children wanting to attend the school next year – unless the Department of Education can finally come to some agreement on how it will replace the transfer test.

Principals, teachers and parents of children in primary 6 classes have attended two separate meetings at the school to hear details of moves being made by grammar schools that are defying Education Minister Caitriona Ruane.

Foyle and Londonderry College is one of 30 grammars in Northern Ireland that have joined the Association for Quality Education (AQE) which is devising an entrance exam in place of the test which was controversially scrapped by Martin McGuinness in his last act as Education Minister.

Foyle principal Jack Magill said: “Thirty schools have opted to take the same test to reduce the impact on staff and parents.

“The fact is that grammar schools want to retain admission tests for when they become over-subscribed.

“The test itself is in its final stages and now we are looking at the administrative side. Both schools and parents have received very little information from the department apart from the fact that the minister wants unregulated admission to schools, which I see as a free-for-all.

“I, as a school principal, cannot leave it like this and these information evenings are about telling teachers and parents about the current situation as I understand it, having talked to both the Department of Education and fellow primary and post-primary principals.

“This is not something we wanted to have to do, but in the absence of any clear direction from the minister, we feel it is important to share the information that we have at this point.”

A Catholic grammar school in Londonderry, Lumen Christi, has also outlined plans to hold its own test next year.


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