Northern Ireland news

Grammar schools hold key to unlocking 11-plus 'debacle'

Green Party councillor and teacher Simon Lee

GRAMMAR schools hold the key to solving the 11-plus "debacle", a teacher and councillor has said.

Unregulated entrance tests are due to take place in November and December, although organisers are coming under pressure to call them off.

Education minister Peter Weir has also been asked to intervene even though the tests are run by private companies.

If the exams cannot take place, individual grammar schools would be forced to use different criteria to select pupils.

Green Party councillor Simon Lee, who works as a teacher, said it was down to post-primary schools themselves to resolve the issue now and into the future.

"Concern around how academic selection will operate this year is adding pressure to an already difficult situation for parents and children," Mr Lee said.

"There has been so much upheaval for 10 and 11-year-olds with a disrupted school year and uncertainty and upset to their lives as a result of Covid-19.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that post-primary schools hold the key to solving this problem. The schools that base admissions on GL and AQE tests can amend their selection process this year and do right by our children."

He added that exams favoured the children of parents with the means to pay for private tuition.

"Covid-19 is widening the gap between children with the parental and technological support to keep up with their learning at this time," he said.

"It is also exposing the deep flaws in the system of academic selection at 11. Let's start to discuss how we can build back better and end the unfair, cruel transfer test in all of its guises."

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