As a primary school principal and a dad to a little girl who is due to sit the transfer test this year, I'm normally generally supportive of academic selection whilst we have broadly two main secondary school types in Northern Ireland.
I believe education opens doors of opportunity for all our children. I believe it is better for every child to attend the secondary school that understands the academic abilities, talents and needs of our children and a school that is determined to meet those needs.
Having worked for 20 years in schools here and prepared children for the old official 11-plus, and now both the current unofficial transfer tests, I am confident secondary schools like this are common in both selective and non-selective schools throughout our country.
I do, however, question the fact that academic selection currently happens at 10 and 11 years of age. I believe that is too young in the life of many of our children to make a critical decision. Some of our children, especially boys, do not show their full academic interests and strengths at the age of 10 and 11.
However, my reasons for writing the remainder of this piece are specifically in relation to the actions of the Association for Quality Education Limited (AQE) in the last 24 hours.
This organisation is led by the current and retired leaders of some grammar schools and supports the academic selection making process of the leaders and boards of governors of many of our local grammar schools. On Tuesday the actions of AQE let our children and families down and painted us all as educators in a very poor light.
They announced in the morning that the planned January tests were cancelled and gave enough time and ambiguity to allow interested parties and the media to believe the AQE tests were cancelled entirely for this year.
The same actions were replicated by their colleagues in the other transfer test company, The Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC). However, subsequent to this, the AQE leadership then met with schools and announced a final decision in the early evening, when many families of P7 children were already celebrating the earlier announcement.
No one in AQE considered our children's emotional wellbeing in acting in such a way, and the silence of the leaders of our grammar schools in not calling this out is indefensible and deafening.
I must be the advocate for my children and their families who have worked so hard for months and have had that journey extended already by Covid-19 restrictions from sitting the tests normally in November to now potentially sitting them this week.
It is wrong to propose a single test in late February, and it is wrong for it to be a single test.
The decision by AQE was purely functional, purely systematic, and purely self-serving of the organisation's needs.
But for this school year we must stop any talk of this test now and allow grammar schools to apply a temporary admission criteria that puts the child, and not the organisation, at the heart of it.
Keith Wysner is principal of Whiteabbey Primary School