General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Catholic heads hit out at breakaway test plans



Dozens of Catholic primary school principals have branded academic selection plans totally flawed.

The 37 schools in Armagh and Tyrone claimed the plans were unfair and educationally unsound.

Many grammars promised to set breakaway exams after Education Minister Caitriona Ruane said last year was the last time the 11-plus would be sat.

The schools' statement said: "In all conscience we as Catholic primary school principals feel duty-bound to state clearly to parents that arrangements as presented to us are fundamentally unfair, educationally unsound and totally contrary to the Catholic ethos of our schools."

The Commission for Catholic Education has given the go-ahead for grammars in Northern Ireland to set entrance exams.

However, it also restated its position that academic selection of any kind should end by 2012.

The schools' intervention, involving institutions from Armagh, Cookstown and Dungannon, said the independent arrangements included children sitting tests in English and maths.

"We want to make it clear that at no stage of this process have primary schools been consulted in regard to these arrangements," they added.

"We will not be involved in any way in supporting or administering testing arrangements which are totally flawed, ethically questionable and morally unacceptable."

A working group was set up earlier this year to consider the transfer issue.

The Catholic Commission said that in the absence of a regulated system of transfer, academic tests may be appropriate in the short-term, particularly for those post-primary schools which are oversubscribed.

But it warned against discriminating against pupils, forcing them to sit a multiplicity of tests or distorting the curriculum.


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