Belfast Telegraph

Heads praise process but call for a single system of assessment

By Rebecca Black

Two principals have made a plea for a single agreed test procedure.

Grammar school heads yesterday praised the two transfer test bodies - the Association of Quality Education (AQE) and the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) - for how the exams are run.

>>NI Transfer Tests: 2017 Grammar Schools’ intake and grade information<<

But Patricia Slevin of Victoria College in south Belfast said one common assessment would be preferable.

"Pupils in the greater Belfast area, and particularly in south Belfast, who wish to exercise choice in terms of the schools they will apply to are required to sit both the AQE and the GL entrance assessments," she said.

"Victoria College Belfast maintains a position which allows pupils who have taken either assessment to apply and be considered for a place.

"The college continues to advocate that there should only be one form of entrance assessment which would be accepted by all schools who wish to use academic selection to admit their pupils."

Methodist College head Scott Naismith added: "The procedure ran very smoothly and efficiently and the college remains committed to working towards a single assessment system."

Royal School Armagh said in a statement: "The board of governors is committed to academic selection and to the continuation of grammar school education.

"The decision taken by the Education Minister in September 2016 to reverse the long-standing departmental policy of not permitting primary schools to prepare pupils for transfer tests means that academic selection should be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future.

"However, it's hoped there will be a single post-primary transfer test in place as soon as possible."

Tom Skelton, principal of Dalriada School in Ballymoney, Co Antrim, said his staff did a full appraisal of the AQE process every year.

He added: "For the third year running there have been no appeals against our selection procedure.

"We carry out an evaluation of the AQE process and the vast majority of parents are happy with the process and in favour of academic selection."

David Burnett, principal at Royal School Dungannon, said parents were extremely supportive of the tests.

"This was another successful AQE process with increased numbers of applicants and exceptionally high levels of support from parents expressed in the questionnaires," Mr Burnett added.

The PPTC was also praised, with St Mary's Christian Brothers Grammar School in west Belfast stating: "This year we received the largest number of Year 8 applications since the GL process began.

"The whole process went very smoothly."

Dermot Mullan, principal of Our Lady and St Patrick's College Knock, said the "process worked well".

Belfast Telegraph

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