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Catholic grammars Loreto and Christian Brothers' to phase out academic selection

By Rebecca Black

Published 28/09/2016

Loreto Grammar School
Loreto Grammar School
Christian Brothers’ Grammar School

Two Catholic grammar schools have formally ended their use of academic selection.

Loreto Grammar School and Christian Brothers' Grammar School - both in Omagh - said they have used academic selection to choose their entire Year 8 intake for the last time.

The schools say that from next September they will start phasing academic selection out, and aim to have removed it completely by 2020.

Both schools were oversubscribed for their 2016 Year 8 intake with 150 applying for 125 places at Loreto and 151 applying for 135 places at the CBS.

They say they are confident that stopping the use of academic selection will not make a significant change to their numbers.

The move comes after Loreto College in Coleraine and St Patrick's College in Armagh ended their use of academic selection a few years ago.

Education Minister Peter Weir yesterday approved the new requests starting from next September to start phasing out academic selection.

"These proposals were instigated by the school management of Loreto Grammar School and Christian Brothers' Grammar School and they are very confident there will be no significant changes to their respective pupil numbers for Year 8 intakes," he said.

Mr Weir said while he supports academic selection, he also respects the right of schools to choose themselves whether or not to use it.

There are currently two sets of unofficial transfer tests, which around 14,000 P7 children sit every year.

Most controlled grammars use the AQE system and most maintained schools use the GL system.

The trustees of both Omagh schools yesterday welcomed the decision by the minister.

No controlled grammar schools have stopped using academic selection, while a number of integrated schools have introduced it.

Earlier this year Mr Weir announced that primary schools could now prepare their pupils to sit transfer tests, relaxing a rule brought in by former Education Minister John O'Dowd which forbade primary schools from preparing pupils for the tests within school time.

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