Northern Ireland news

Test organisers urged to avoid `bursting bubble'

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Robbie Butler

PARENTS are urging 11-plus organisers to hold tests in primary schools to avoid `bursting the bubble' of P7 pupils.

Children due to sit grammar school entrance exams in the winter will be among the first to come back on August 24.

They will return with one metre social distancing and classrooms will be used as "protective bubbles".

Under the current system of transfer, thousands of children from different primary schools are brought together to sit tests in grammar settings or overflow centres.

With schools including Lagan College withdrawing from the process, capacity is greatly reduced.

Naomi McBurney, organiser of the #bringitbacktoprimary campaign, is calling on AQE and PPTC to begin discussions about hosting exams with primary principals.

"Post primary transfer tests are challenging during normal times, but this year delivers a whole new dimension. Children must remain in their protective 'bubbles' for these tests and the safest way to do that is by taking them in their own primary school," she said.

"Education Minister Peter Weir has already indicated P7 pupils are at a greater advantage taking the tests in their own school. He has also stated on numerous occasions that there are no reasons why primary schools cannot host the tests."

The campaign is supported by Robbie Butler, UUP MLA and member of the assembly education committee.

"Taking the tests in a safe and familiar environment, while it won't solve all the problems associated with this year's process, it will go a long way to help reduce the stress and anxiety the children are feeling, while ensuring they remain within their protective bubble," he said.

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