Education Minister backs grammar school tests for Northern Ireland 11-year-olds
Northern Ireland's Education Minister has given his support for the testing of children for grammar school places.
Peter Weir reversed a long-standing policy of his Sinn Fein predecessors and permitted school principals to use academic selection to decide where to send pupils aged 11.
The senior Democratic Unionist assembly member wrote in the Belfast Telegraph: "The guidance that I am issuing today sets out the department's support for academic selection, but more importantly removes any perceived threat to schools. It accepts that it is in the best interest of pupils to be supported by their primary schools through the process of transfer.
"Where it is in line with the wishes of parents, schools have a role to play in helping prepare pupils for the tests to enable them to achieve their very best.
"Schools are now afforded the freedom to facilitate test arrangements by supplying support materials, preparation during core teaching hours, coaching in exam technique and providing familiarisation with the testing environment.
"There will also be the opportunity by mutual agreement with the test providers to facilitate locations for the test, although this option is extremely unlikely to impact in 2016."
The 11-plus exam which used to govern entry into grammar schools, was scrapped by Sinn Fein in 2008 but unofficial tests have been used by many grammars since then.