Northern Ireland’s politicians have an immediate responsibility to reach consensus on a way forward for school transfer, according to one Belfast mum.
Michele Filippi will be among a delegation delivering the 10,000 signatures gathered so far for the Belfast Telegraph’s Sit Down, Sort It Out campaign directly to |Stormont.
The mother-of-two will join us on Saturday to walk up to Parliament Buildings where we will present members of the education committee with our petition.
Everyone is welcome to come along at 12.30pm.
Our campaign calls for Executive talks to take place and for agreement to be reached on a way forward in time for this year’s P6 pupils to transfer between schools in 2011.
The SDLP, DUP, Alliance Party and UUP are already participating in talks, but so far Sinn Fein has refused to join them.
As they try to come up with an agreed way forward, thousands of children across the province are sitting new unregulated entrance exams.
Michele, whose sons are aged 10 and eight, said: “This transfer test debacle is a huge worry for us.
“It's great to see the Belfast Telegraph taking up our concerns and the concerns of thousands of other parents.
“All the mums I know are pulling their hair out over the |inability of local politicians to move forward on this issue and arrive at a regulated transfer system.
“I have heard arguments from both sides and I understand the difficulties that the parties face, yet I do believe the elected representatives have an immediate responsibility to our children to find a consensus.
“Whether you agree with its abolition or not, the replacement of the 11-plus with two sets of unregulated entrance exams is not ideal to say the least.
“Having said that, the new special consideration arrangements — including additional time for children with special needs sitting the tests — is a step in the right direction and should have been there with the old system.
“But whilst politicians fail to reach agreement, our children bear the brunt and so the current situation is unacceptable.”
She added: “I hope other families, whether they have children of transfer age or not, can be there to support the petition and to send a clear message to the Executive. That’s what we are paying them to do and that’s why I will be there.”
If you would like to join us on Saturday, email firstname.lastname@example.org