Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Testing day for 7,000 children as new entrance exams begin

Over 7,000 children are entering into the unknown today to sit the first paper of new entrance exams.

A total of 13,700 registrations were received in total for the tests being set by the Association for Quality Education (AQE) and the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium.

The pupils sitting the AQE tests face their first hour-long English and maths paper at 10am today.

They can sit up to two further tests on November 28th and December 5th. The best two scores will count. Pupils sitting the GL Assessment test will sit two multiple choice papers on November 2.

Results will be issued to all pupils on February 6th.

More than 8,000 people have so far signed the Belfast Telegraph’s Sit Down, Sort It Out petition — which is calling for the Executive ministers to talk and agree on a way forward for transfer.

We will present the first batch of petitions to members of the Assembly’s education committee on Saturday December 5th.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane issued a message to children sitting the first test.

“This weekend 11 and 10-year-olds will be sitting the first of the breakaway tests set by the grammar sector,” she said. “I send my best wishes to each and every child and urge them to remember that they can all achieve their ambitions and aspirations regardless of the results they obtain.

“I also wish those pupils who are not sitting a test all the best.

“They too have a right to a first-class education system and to every opportunity to succeed.

“It is unfortunate that grammar schools have chosen not to follow suit with their educational partners and engage in Transfer 2010 which is the Department of Education’s policy on how children should move to post-primary schools.

“Those schools which have chosen to use breakaway tests need to be aware of the potential legal pitfalls and risks of tests being set without subjective adjudication in the admissions process.”

The outgoing chair of the Governing Bodies Association (GBA) Dr Evelyn Dermott defended voluntary grammars setting tests. “As the representative voice of the voluntary grammar sector the GBA believe the minister’s recent claims that the current confusion and anguish amongst parents was as a result of the actions of grammar schools to be unfounded, unfortunate and unhelpful,” she said.

“The consequences of her irresponsible decision to move ahead and remove one transfer system without an agreed replacement is now being felt in the homes of thousands of young families across Northern Ireland.

“Having taken professional legal advice, schools are confident that their plans are robust and we believe the threats from the minister about a legal chaos are a result of her own frustration.”

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