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Second NI grammar school ditches transfer test


Royal School Dungannon will not take part in transfer tests this year.

Royal School Dungannon will not take part in transfer tests this year.

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Royal School Dungannon will not take part in transfer tests this year.

Royal School Dungannon has become the second of Northern Ireland’s grammar schools to back out of transfer tests this year.

The school said it will not be using the AQE test, which has been rescheduled for February 27, to select pupils for the 2021/22 intake.

Earlier this week Strabane Academy said it would not be using the AQE test.

Both schools said they want to give certainty to pupils.

The first AQE exam was due to be taken by P7 pupils this weekend, with two more dates in January. All were cancelled because of the rising number of Covid-19 infections in Northern Ireland, while Northern Ireland’s other private company running tests on behalf of schools, the PPTC, said it had abandoned its tests for this year.

The NI Executive is discussing the AQE tests today amid calls for the Education Minister to step in and call a halt to the process.

Education Minister Peter Weir said he had no intention of stopping AQE from holding its test in eight weeks time.

Now Royal School Dungannon, one of Northern oldest grammar schools, has taken matters into its own hands.

In a statement on the school website, the school said: “RSD’s Executive Committee of the Board of Governors met on Thursday 7th January to decide if RSD would use the 27th February single AQE test or RSD’s contingency admissions criteria.

“The RSD Board of Governors supports the principle of academic selection but in this exceptional year, after careful consideration, Governors unanimously decided not to use the AQE single test scheduled for 27th February and, instead, to use RSD’s contingency admissions criteria for Year 8 admissions for September 2021. In so doing, our most important consideration was giving certainty to P7 pupils and families during the Covid-19 public health crisis. The AQE test will, therefore, not take place at RSD on 27th February.

“The RSD contingency admissions criteria are on the RSD website and will be provided to the Education Authority for publication.

“We realise that the children have worked hard in preparing for the tests and that this is not how any of us would have wanted the transfer process to have worked this year.

“However, in the circumstances, we have taken this decision based on what we believe to be in the best interests of the children’s immediate welfare and their longer term prospects of success at RSD.”

Belfast Telegraph