Belfast Telegraph

Call to end 'damaging to child's health' school transfer tests

Karen Mullan MLA
Karen Mullan MLA

There have been calls for an end to academic selection tests at 11 after a study found the unregulated tests for Primary 7 pupils was damaging for children's health.

The Irish News reports on a study of hundreds of teachers and pupils by the Right to Education group. It carried out the research as there was no official report on how the tests affected health.

It found tests dented confidence, wellbeing was suffering with children not sleeping, suffering anxiety, depression and refusing to go to school out of fear.

The children and their teachers said it was time the tests were "thrown in the bin".

The tests have been in place since the 11-plus was abolished in 2008 and until DUP minister Peter Weir announced a u-turn in 2016, schools were banned from preparing children for the tests.

The AQE and GL Assessment multiple tests take place over successive weekends every year around November.

Over 200 pupils and 50 teachers took part in the survey.

Teachers have reported the strain it puts on the children as well as the test being "discriminatory".

The report recommends the Department for Education implement protection to mitigate harm and for schools to include wellbeing initiatives as part of their pastoral care priorities.

Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan said the report "exposed the cruel and damaging impact of academic selection on children" and demonstrated further the need to end the practice.

“Unfortunately, many schools continue to select and reject children based on an unregulated test system," she said.

"That needs to end. It is damaging for children and damaging for the education system.

“In light of this latest study, school board of governors should now show leadership and end the use of transfer tests in favour of building a fully inclusive and non-selective education system for the betterment of all our young people.”

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