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Union hits out at plans for grammar school tests

05-09-2007

Irish News

PLANS by grammar school to set entrance exams that would replace the 11-plus will distort and skew the new curriculum, teaching unions have claimed.

The INTO accused school heads of replacing one discredited system with another.

The Association for Quality Education (AQE), which includes 40 college principals, has warned that it could establish a common test if no replacement for the 11-plus is agreed.

However, INTO senior official Brian Harron last night said: "It is sad that in a week which sees the beginning of a roll-out of a new potentially world-class curriculum in Northern Ireland schools, the AQE is announcing the imminent introduction of a selection test which would completely distort and skew the very same curriculum."

The last 11-plus transfer test is scheduled for 2008. Its abolition was first announced by Stormont education minister Martin McGuinness hours before he left office in 2002.

Mr Harron said there were sound reasons for abandoning the exam.

"Grammar school heads have consistently agreed this yet we now have allegedly 40 grammar schools which intend to replace the discredited system with exactly the same thing," he said.

Education minister Caitriona Ruane has said academic selection is not the way forward and that it has failed many children.

Chairman of the AQE Sir Kenneth Bloomfield said: "We in the AQE have always appreciated that we can call something a grammar school but if there's no form of academic testing at all then there's no grammar school at all.

"We are looking for alternatives which try to meet some of the objections to the 11-plus, ie that it is amenable to coaching and therefore favours the middle-class."

Sir Kenneth said the AQE wanted to develop a more flexible exam which would stretch pupils, rather than a predictable test.

 

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