Belfast Telegraph

Down college has entrance exam plan rejected

Strangford Integrated College. Credit: Google
Strangford Integrated College. Credit: Google

A Co Down college has had its plans to use an academic selection test for some pupils rejected by the Department of Education (DE).

Strangford Integrated College wanted to introduce an entrance exam for 35% of its future intake.

The all-ability college is based in the village of Carrowdore and has around 700 pupils.

Plans for prospective pupils to be admitted based on AQE or PPTC results have not been approved by the DE.

The school currently admits 35% of its pupils to a "grammar stream" based on evidence of academic ability including reports and other tests.

The BBC has reported that the school wanted to select 39 out of 110 pupils from its 2019 intake using transfer test results.

A school spokesperson said that the move would have offered a grammar school education to pupils from a Catholic background on the Ards peninsula who currently travel to Our Lady and Saint Patrick's College, Knock, in east Belfast which is oversubscribed.

The school also pointed out that the nearest integrated school was Lagan College in Belfast, which is also oversubscribed.

Five post-primary schools in the are objected to the proposal, Glastry College, Glenlola Collegiate, Movilla High School, Regent House School and St Columbanus' College.

The schools said there were already successful schools in the area using academic selection and expressed concern over Strangford Integrated's "grammar stream".

The Education Authority and Controlled Schools Support Council also opposed the plans, while the college were supported by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education.

Permanent Secretary at the DE Derek Baker rejected the plan saying there was still significant issues regarding post-primary school provision in the North Down and Ards area.

He found that neither case, for or against the plan, was "not particularly robust and conclusive" and said it would be "premature" to approve the move.

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