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Peter Weir asked to explain 11-plus `coaching' u-turn before committee

Peter Weir has lifted a ban on 11-plus coaching in school

A CROSS-PARTY assembly scrutiny committee has voted to summon education minister Peter Weir to explain his 11-plus `coaching u-turn'.

Mr Weir has lifted a ban on 11-plus coaching in school - a move criticised by teachers and rival politicians as `immature' and `out of step'.

Up until now, schools have been warned against distorting the curriculum by facilitating unregulated tests "in any way". Mr Weir issued new guidance last week that told primary schools they could now prepare children.

The minster is due to appear before the assembly education committee on October 12, however, members yesterday agreed, following a vote, to ask him to appear sooner.

Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff, chairman of the committee, said members voted 7-4 in favour of calling the minister to appear.

"Minister Peter Weir has to be a minister for all children, not just those whose parents put them in for the test," Mr McElduff said.

The SDLP's Colin McGrath said committee members were disappointed that they first heard of the significant policy reversal during a morning radio bulletin.

"We must be given the opportunity to put to the minister the questions that still remain on the attainment disparity across all schools," Mr McGrath said.

"He must explain why is he starting down a road that will, at best, take us back to where we started over a decade ago where the acceptance of the gross disparity of academic achievement remained official government policy. He must also explain why he has allowed for the use of publicly funded class time to prepare for private exams."

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