Northern Ireland news

Lagan College opts out of academic selection due to pandemic

Lagan College integrated school. Picture by Mal McCann
Michael McHugh, Press Association

A Belfast post-primary school has become the latest to opt out of academic selection due to the pandemic.

Lagan College cited the exceptional circumstances that P6 children are experiencing and concerns for their well being.

Private assessment providers AQE and GL Assessments have decided to hold their exams two weeks later to allow pupils whose lessons have been disrupted by school closures to catch up.

READ MORE: Nearly half of children experiencing anxiety about Covid-19

A letter to parents from college principal Amanda McNamee said: "The recent Covid-19 pandemic has had a major impact on all our lives including the P6 children, who have been out of school since March 2020, with continued uncertainty about their school provision going forward.

"After much, careful deliberation, the board of governors and principal, have decided that this year, in response to the exceptional circumstances that the P6 children are experiencing and on wellbeing grounds, Lagan College will not accept any form of academic selection as part of the P7 transfer process in 2021."

Ordinarily Lagan College, situated in south Belfast, has used the outcome of the assessments as part of its admissions policy, representing 35% of its annual intake of 200 children each year.

This year the school will also not act as a GL assessment centre or an overflow AQE assessment centre in December.

The principal added: "We sincerely apologise for any concern that this may cause to P6 families.

"However, we believe that this is the right decision for Lagan College to take and in keeping with our integrated, inclusive and all ability ethos."

Lagan College has opted out of academic selection due to the coronavirus pandemic

The replacement admissions policy will be largely based on existing all ability entry criteria.

The principal added: "Going forward, we will continue to care for and meet the needs of children of all abilities, at a learning pace that is appropriate to help each individual child flourish and achieve their potential."

Private providers are planning to hold their tests a fortnight later in November and December.

They ruled out holding it next year because it would create problems with the academic calendar and said using predicted grades instead would be unworkable.

Catholic archbishop Eamon Martin is among those who have called for their suspension due to the impact on pupils.

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