General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Parents set to consult schools on exam results


News Letter

The parents of children who took 11-plus replacement tests will this week consult with primary schools about the next stage for their children transferring to post-primary education.

Children across Northern Ireland received the results of some 14,000 exams on Saturday morning, in the wake of the abolition of the 11-plus.

One of them, 11-year-old Caitlin Convery from Newtownabbey, scored 103 points, which is the equivalent to a B1.

Her father, Columb Convery, said they did not have any problems doing transfer tests at that age, but that the uncertainty surrounding this year's process had been very stressful.

"Previously they would have sat two exams in their own school during school hours," he said. "But this year Caitlin had to sit exams in an unfamiliar school over three Saturday mornings.

"In previous years her 80 per cent grade would have given her an A. So we are now unsure what her B1 will mean to her first preference school."
Royal Mail apologised for delays in delivering results to pupils on Saturday, acknowledging problems in the Craigavon area. It was reported that some parents travelled to the sorting office to ask for results when they failed to be delivered.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "The vast majority of exam results have been successfully delivered this morning. There was a short delay to a fraction of items mainly in the Craigavon area which have now been delivered. We know this is an anxious time for parents and children and apologise for any concern caused."

The 11-plus was abolished last year but, with no political agreement on a replacement, unregulated tests have been set by the Association for Quality Education (AQE), representing mainly state grammar schools, and the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC), which mainly represents Catholic-maintained grammar schools.

Sir Ken Bloomfield from AQE said yesterday that parents would this week talk to primary schools about completing their application form.
Looking forward he said that AQE and PPTC would work hard in the year ahead at reducing the two tests to one.

"Both sides acknowledge that this is not ideal, a proportion of children have ended up doing both tests," he said.

"It is too early to say if it is possible, but we will certainly want to work towards a single test in the year ahead."

Sinn Fein education spokesman John O'Dowd reiterated his party's position that no child should be subjected to academic selection.
"All the children who sat entrance tests deserve to be congratulated no matter what result they have achieved, as do those children who did not sit tests," he said.

"They all have a bright educational future to look forward to."
Education Minister Caitriona Ruane of Sinn Fein has been strongly criticised for failing to reach any consensus with other parties over a way forward for post-primary transfers.

However, the devolution of policing and justice deal agreed last week will set up a formal committee chaired by junior ministers which will look at ways of resolving dysfunctions in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Commenting yesterday, DUP education spokesperson and Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee Mervyn Storey said that test results were "evidence that parental choice on the basis of academic criteria is still part of the educational arrangements in Northern Ireland and will be in the future."


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