Education news

Integrated school wants to introduce 11-plus

Strangford College wants to introduce academic selection

AN integrated school is taking the unprecedented step of seeking to introduce 11-plus tests.

Strangford College wants to roll out "selection by academic ability or aptitude" from next year.

A development proposal, if approved, would allow the school to use exams to admit 35 per cent of Year 8 pupils.

While academic selection is typically the preserve of grammar schools, it exists to a significantly lesser extent in the integrated sector.

Lagan College in Belfast and Slemish College in Ballymena are `bilateral' - a synonym for comprehensive. Such partly grammar, partly secondary intermediate schools continue to use transfer tests to admit about one third of first years.

In a case for change document, the school said it had a strong trend of being over-subscribed.

Last year, expression of interest questionnaires were distributed to parents of P6 and P7s in feeder primary schools.

Two-thirds expressed support for grammar entry places.

Strangford introduced an informal academic admissions policy in 2015, which allows parents to choose "an appropriate academic pathway for their children".

Parents can request consideration for grammar entry by providing evidence of their children's academic ability. They can use any form of standardised test.

"It is clear that the wider community wanted Strangford to offer a model of entry similar to Lagan and Slemish," the school said.

The proposal, the school added, would allow rank ordering of pupils based on 11-plus tests "which parents and feeder primary principals feel would make applications to Strangford's grammar pathway less confusing and on an even playing field to applications elsewhere".

The Controlled Schools Support Council and Education Authority both oppose the proposal.

Glastry College has also spoken out saying: "There is no need for any all-ability school to introduce academic selection to populate a ‘grammar stream', making them feel second best".

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