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Professor given task of leading process to find a single transfer test

By Rebecca Black

Published 01/11/2016

Talks: Professor Peter Tymms
Talks: Professor Peter Tymms

An academic has been appointed to oversee talks to agree a single transfer test for P7 pupils.

The Department of Education has appointed Professor Peter Tymms to lead the initiative, which is being supported by minister Peter Weir.

Professor Tymms will seek to find a compromise between the two bodies that test assessments, AQE and GL.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed last week that Mr Weir had met both bodies and that a "process of dialogue" had started "to see what help and assistance could be there".

Currently more than 14,000 children in Northern Ireland sit unofficial transfer tests each year.

There are two separate tests set by private organisations, AQE and GL, and children who sit both systems face five tests.

This year's tests will be taken over five Saturdays, with pupils sitting the first AQE test on November 12.

Most controlled grammars accept AQE grades, while most Catholic maintained schools accept GL grades, and a small number of grammars accept either.

Earlier this year, Mr Weir relaxed rules to allow primary schools to be able to prepare their pupils to sit the tests within school hours.

"My focus is making sure the process is as smooth as possible for those doing the test, hence the guidance I have issued, hence the work going on in discussions with the two organisations to try and facilitate whether there can be a narrowing of the gap between the two, or ideally one set of tests," he said.

Children's Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma voiced disappointment and restated her opposition to the transfer test.

"While it is preferable that within a system of unregulated tests, all children take a single regulated test, it is extremely disappointing that the vision for education in Northern Ireland is firmly fixed on the perpetuation of 'academic segregation'."

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