Department seeks single transfer test by 2017

Prepare for the elevenplus exam now

item 4The Department of Education (DE) has begun a formal process to find a common transfer test.The BBC (26/10/2016) understands that the DE's aim is to have a common test in place by November 2017. The DE have appointed Professor Peter Tymms, from the school of education at Durham University, to lead the initiative. It is called: "Towards a common assessment for the purposes of academic selection".

However, Education Minister Peter Weir told the DUP conference at the weekend that he could not "impose" a state-run test.

"I have started work with the two testing organisations to see what common ground can be found, with the aim of agreement being facilitated between them," he said.

Mr Weir told BBC Northern Ireland's Good Morning Ulster it was clear that while there would not be political agreement around a "state transfer test", academic selection was "here to stay".

"It hasn't gone away because there is a strong demand out there for academic selection," he said.

"It is clear that academic selection, whether you are in favour or not, is happening and it is here to stay.

"I want to try and make the system as easy as possible for the parents of children that are going through this, I think that is a laudable aim."

The commissioner for children and young people in Northern Ireland, Koulla Yiasouma, said root and branch reform was needed, not a "further sticking plaster".

"No parent wants to subject their 10 or 11-year-old child to the stress of a number of academic tests, but parents have no choice within the system as it currently stands.

"While it is preferable that within a system of unregulated tests, all children take a single regulated test, it is extremely disappointing that the vision for education in Northern Ireland is firmly fixed on the perpetuation of "academic segregation".

"We need the equivalent of health's Bengoa, we need to get into the crevices of our education system and agree a vision that will result in a system that delivers for each and every child - it far from achieves this at the minute," she said.

Currently, there are two separate tests run by the Association of Quality Education (AQE) and the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC).

Primary school children aged 10 and 11 can choose to sit either test, both tests, or decide not to sit them.

They are used to decide which pupils are admitted to the vast majority of grammar schools.

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