Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Transfer system is still a maze

The results of the latest transfer tests for schools were available at the weekend, and they may leave some parents not much the wiser.

The system is still a maze, and despite all the rhetoric and political drama surrounding this vital aspect of children's education, the complexities remain.

The AQE test is used mainly for entrance into the State schools, while the GL system is used largely by the Catholic grammars.

To complicate matters further, both systems are in opposition to the policy set out by the Department of Education, which supports non-academic selection, following the scrapping of the old 11-plus examination.

Parents required to operate the new systems have to deal with a complexity unknown to those in the past. They need a transfer booklet, or to know how to get one, as well as a transfer form, filling it in, appealing a decision, and other details of a potentially daunting procedure.

To help families to deal with these challenges, the Belfast Telegraph is publishing detailed advice this week which may prove to be of considerable help to people trying to find the best schools for their children. This may not necessarily be a search based on academic criteria alone. There are other important factors, including the opinion of the child, and the consideration about where he or she might be happiest and most fulfilled.

What, for example, are a child's strengths, and which school or schools might best accommodate these qualities? There is also the important consideration of brothers or sisters who may be already at a school where a younger child wishes to gain entrance, but may be unsuccessful in doing so.

Education has long been a vital indicator of future success, and in a competitive career world, a good start for a child is of the utmost importance.

It is all the more worrying, therefore, that the present transfer system presents such complex challenges and choices for parents, and the development of a more simple and understandable procedure is urgently required. This sector of education has been in a mess for far too long.

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