Belfast Telegraph

Home News

Two tests too much for school transfers

By Lindsay Fergus

There can be no doubt that the two unregulated transfer tests provided by the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) and Association of Quality Education (AQE) have been a success.

As DUP education spokeswoman Michelle McIlveen states, after six years they have "bedded down".

Their popularity is a far cry from the disaster predicted by then Education Minister Caitriona Ruane upon learning that the state-run 11-plus was being replaced by not one but two independent transfer tests.

Ms Ruane had warned of schools being taken to court as parents disputed the results of the tests - so far no school has found itself before a judge.

Perhaps that initial fear factor and hype created by Sinn Fein, which as we all know is vehemently against academic selection, could explain why 59% of P7 pupils were registered by their parents for the tests that year.

Today, with five years of tests under their belts without issue, the figure now stands at 66%, but as the Education Minister points out, the two-test system allows for duplication, so the figure could be lower.

However, parents and schools both appear to have confidence in the system.

Yet Ms McIlveen is right - we need one test. No test would be better, but until Sinn Fein succeeds in raising standards in non-selective schools that is just a pipe dream.

Not only would one test spare those pupils who do opt to sit both assessments having to undertake five papers, it would create uniformity.

At present, PPTC's two papers are multiple choice, AQE's three papers require written answers. The papers have different numbers of questions, are marked differently and have different scoring systems.

One test would also mean there would not be a duplication in registrations, which means the true popularity of academic selection post 11-plus could be measured once and for all.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph