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Plan to find single 11-plus `beyond belief' say teachers

Some primary pupils take up to five unregulated 11-plus-style tests

A UNION of teachers has said the appointment of an academic selection consultant is "beyond belief".

Education minister Peter Weir has announced a team of educational professionals who will "seek to simplify the current transfer test process".

Some primary pupils take up to five unregulated 11-plus-style tests to secure a place at a grammar school.

Mr Weir said he wanted a common assessment by autumn 2018 adding that any agreed change would not impact on pupils in P6 or 7 now.

Thousands of pupils will sit the second of this year's unofficial papers on Saturday.

Avril Hall Callaghan, general secretary of the Ulster Teachers' Union, condemned the Department of Education for spending money on a consultant "at a time of unprecedented fiscal restraint in schools".

"At a time when schools are running between pillar and post in a frantic effort to make ends meet and deliver the education our children deserve; at a time when resources have never been thinner; at a time when schools are surviving on little more than the goodwill of teachers, our elected representatives have decided that those precious resources are best spent on a consultant academic," she said.

"It is beyond belief. We don't need any more consultations on the whys and wherefores of academic selection - we have had years of P7 children now who for generations have been herded into `passes' and `fails' at the tender age of often only 10."

Mr Weir said he believed academic selection had the potential to change people's lives for the better.

"The issue remains, however, that we have two distinct transfer tests which place pressures on primary schools and in particular our young people. I want to improve the process, where possible, for everyone involved," he said.

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