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Parents' leaflet claims ‘public support' for academic selection

An advice leaflet for parents of P6 children has claimed there is public support for academic selection

AN advice leaflet for parents of P6 children has claimed there is public support for academic selection.

The Transfer Process to Post-Primary School document has been published by the Department of Education.

It provides advice to parents about which post-primary schools to apply to as well as setting out the main steps in the transfer process.

Teachers and principals told the Irish News they were concerned about the language used, however.

They specifically highlighted a section that focuses on the decision by education minister Peter Weir to allow schools to coach children for unregulated 11-plus exams.

It reads: "Reflecting public support for academic selection to grammar schools, the department supports the right of those schools wishing to use academic selection as the basis for admission of some or all of their pupils to do so."

The Department of Education has not responded to questions from the Irish News asking how it has measured public support.

Opponents of academic selection have pointed out that having to take part in the 11-plus to get a grammar school place is not the same thing as supporting selection tests.

For seven years, schools have run their own entrance exams. The last state-sponsored 11-plus was held in November 2008.

Previously, Mr Weir was quizzed about his conclusion that unregulated tests were "robust".

In its response, the department could not point to any reports or research having ever been carried out. Instead, it said the number of parents choosing to enrol their children "indicates their support for the tests".

Mr Weir last month announced that a team of educational professionals would "seek to simplify the current transfer test process".

He asked this panel to engage with the rival test providers "to see what progress can be made towards a common assessment for academic selection".

The Association of Quality Education has already expressed concern, claiming agreement is "almost impossible".

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