Education news

Catholic school heads warn of 'academic rejection' damage

Thousands of children will take unregulated 11-plus tests

THE heads of Catholic schools have warned that children are being damaged by a system of `academic rejection'.

Thousands of pupils are preparing to sit unregulated grammar school entrance tests for the second Saturday in a row.

There has been no state involvement in 11-plus exams in a decade.

Instead grammar schools run their own admissions tests, using either the Common Entrance Assessment or multiple-choice papers set by GL Assessment.

As many children take both exams, they must sit separate papers on four consecutive weekends.

On Saturday, thousands will take the GL Assessment papers. They are used by 26 Catholic grammars, six non-Catholic grammars and two integrated schools.

Some Catholic grammar schools have moved away from academic selection in recent years.

The Catholic Principals Association (CPA), which represents the views of about 230 primary and secondary schools, said selection at age 10 or 11 was damaging to children and detrimental to the education system in general.

"The continued use of unregulated testing to determine admission to some Catholic grammar schools is in conflict with the fundamental aims and values of Catholic education," the group said.

"The compelling evidence emerging from areas which have moved away from selection affirms that all children are advantaged and none disadvantaged by this move.

"However, this evidence continues to be ignored by these institutions. In those areas, parents have embraced the changes and all children have benefited as a result. Why if all children are evidently benefitting from this change are these schools continuing this unregulated practice consequently preventing progress for all?"

At a time in education and society when there was a heightened focus on the emotional health and wellbeing of children, the CPA added, it was "sad that the interests of individual institutions are considered more important than the needs of individual children - very many of those individual children being damaged as a result of selection/ rejection".

"With this in mind how or why do we continue to justify allowing children to be deemed `good enough', to be taught in various Catholic post primary schools.

"There is nothing whatsoever to be celebrated in those schools by their issue of results that offer exclusion and rejection - so much for the claim that all children are created equal and made in the image of God."

The second and third CEA papers will be taken on November 24 and December 1.

It had been hoped that a new single assessment would be in place by autumn 2018.

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