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Schools consider ‘radical change’ to transfer test


Changes to the transfer test are under consideration

Changes to the transfer test are under consideration


Changes to the transfer test are under consideration

One of the transfer test bodies used by post primary schools to select the new intake of pupils for Year 8 has asked schools to consider moving towards a verbal reasoning test.

That would, said the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC), mean a “radical change” to this November’s proposed transfer tests for the current P6 pupils.

But the discussion paper also recommended that the autumn tests continue to be held in grammar schools rather than primary schools, as some primaries would not be willing to host the tests, despite the Education Minister saying there is no restrictions on primary schools hosting the tests.

Schools and the board of the PPTC will now consider the details of the proposal, with the discussion paper, which suggests the test should move away from Maths and English, planned due to Covid-19 disruption to the school year.

No post primary schools used the PPTC or AQE transfer test to select pupils this year with all tests forced to be cancelled due to restrictions.

It will now be up to individual schools and the PPTC steering group to decide.

The PPTC-run tests provided by GL Assessment are used, in the main, by Catholic grammar schools to select pupils. Around 30 schools use the PPTC test.

However, some voluntary and controlled grammars — and integrated post-primaries — also use the PPTC tests to admit some pupils.

The PPTC discussion paper said the organisation had to plan “several months ahead” for the 2021-22 transfer tests.

In previous years, the tests run by PPTC had “examined the attainment of pupils in English and Maths,” it said.

“Many children due to sit the tests in the autumn will have faced disruption to their education in primaries five and six, including to the English and Maths curriculum.

“Serious consideration should be given to moving away from an Entrance Assessment which is attainment based to one which is aptitude based.”

Aptitude based assessments would include both verbal (language and comprehension) and non-verbal (problem solving) reasoning tests.

They were used as part of the former 11-plus exam which ended in 2008.

Some grammar schools in England already use verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning tests to select pupils.

“In an exceptional year aptitude tests would be much fairer to pupils,” the PPTC paper said. “Primary school children already had experience in using verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning assessments.”

If approved, each test will last about 50 minutes with around 80 questions in each.

It also said that if schools agreed to use verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests they could be held in the usual mid-November date in 2021.

Schools’ boards of governors have now been asked to discuss whether to change the transfer tests in the autumn, and when to hold them, and report back to the PPTC steering group in March.

Belfast Telegraph

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