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Caitriona Ruane hits out at ‘stressful’ tests

By Kathryn Torney

There can be no justification for putting P7 children through the stress of “selection and rejection” of school entrance exams, the Education Minister has claimed.

Caitriona Ruane’s comments come as almost 7,000 children today sit the first of this year’s transfer tests set by the Association for Quality Education.

The pupils will sit up to three tests on Saturday mornings. The best two scores will count.

And around 7,000 pupils will sit multiple choice tests set by grammar schools mainly within the Catholic sector next Saturday. In all, 67 schools are running entrance exams again this year — against Ms Ruane’s guidance.

Political talks involving the DUP, SDLP, UUP and Alliance aimed at reaching a consensus on a new system are currently at a standstill.

One grammar — Loreto College in Coleraine — has announced plans to abandon selection.

Ms Ruane said: “Since becoming Education Minister I have worked to ensure equality is at the core of every policy. That includes our policy on how children move from primary to post-primary school. There can be no justification in putting children through the stress of selection and rejection at such an early age.

“Every child should be able to access the best quality education to which they are entitled without having to overcome barriers erected by schools wanting to pick and choose the children they are prepared to teach.”

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