General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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CEA scores to determine up to 90 per cent of grammar entries


 The Irish News

Grammar schools planning an untried pool admissions system will award up to 90 per cent of places to pupils with the best scores in unofficial 11-plus-style exams.

There will be no state-sponsored 11-plus this year but all grammars will operate unregulated entrance exams this month.

In all, 13,737 pupils have been entered – about 1,600 fewer than for the final official transfer test last year.

Documents seen by The Irish News say that grammars operating pools are using what is labelled ‘quasi-bilateralism’.

The documents show that the percentage of places available through pure academic ranking varies – some will use test scores to determine 90 per cent of entries, while others will use the scores for only 65 per cent.

Campbell College in Belfast will fill 70 per cent of places using test scores.

To fill the remaining 30 per cent, non-academic criteria will be applied to those 63 best Common Entrance Assessment (CEA) scores outside the top 70 per cent.

Carrickfergus and Bangor grammars both plan to award 90 per cent of places in rank order. To fill the remaining 10 per cent of places they will apply other criteria to the next best 18 and 26 CEA scores respectively.

Sullivan Upper in Holywood, Co Down, will have a pool of 45 pupils for 30 places while Banbridge Academy will have 28 children competing for about 18 places.

Two schools – Coleraine High and Coleraine Academical Institution – will operate as bilateral from next year, offering 25 and 20 per cent of places on non-academic grounds.

It is understood that Department of Education officials believe that the way schools have drafted their entrance criteria will affect their ability to withstand legal challenges.

Officials are understood to believe the information provided is complex and set out in a way that parents may find difficult to access.

Test results will be presented in different ways. Marking schemes for each set of tests are different and the way they are communicated to parents has the potential to confuse, critics say.

About 7,000 pupils will sit the first of three CEA papers on November 14.


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