Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

1,400 parents in petition call over test for P7 pupils

The Education Minister has been presented with a petition from more than 1,400 parents in the Larne area calling on her to consider reinstating a selective test on a temporary basis for P7 pupils.

The petition — started by the Schools Transfer Options for Pupils (Stop) parents’ group — was presented to the chair and deputy chair of the Assembly’s education committee.

Caitriona Ruane turned down a request to meet the group so the DUP’s Mervyn Storey and SDLP education spokesman Dominic Bradley agreed to forward the petition to the minister.

Ms Ruane said she could not meet the group because of diary commitments and referred them to her admissions guidelines.

The children of Stop’s members are due to be the first to transfer to post-primary schools under the unregulated education system caused by the Assembly’s failure to agree on a way forward.

The group has been campaigning for Ms Ruane to consider allowing academic testing of P7 children to continue until politicians can agree on a new school transfer system.

The DUP, UUP, SDLP and Alliance have all urged the minister to reintroduce a test for a couple of years, but so far Ms Ruane has said she will not introduce another ‘state-sponsored selective’ test for P7 pupils.

Dympna Thornton, a mother-of-two and a member of Stop , said: “It is deeply disappointing that the minister refused to meet with our delegation.

“Our P6 children now have a

mere 16 or 17 teaching weeks left until they face a range of selection processes which over 90% of grammar schools have indicated they will hold. The mismanagement of this situation by the minister has meant that a shambolic situation has developed.”

Children’s Commissioner Patricia Lewsley has called on Ms Ruane and the Executive to do all in their power to end the confusion over school transfer. She said: “My job is to promote and safeguard the rights and best interests of children. The current confusion is not in the best interests of pupils.”

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