Northern Ireland news

Half a dozen grammar schools change new admissions criteria

Grammar school entrance tests were cancelled

HALF a dozen grammar schools have been given permission to change their new admissions criteria.

Entrance tests were cancelled this year, forcing schools to devise alternative plans on how to award places to Year 8s.

Most abandoned efforts to use different forms of academic selection in lieu of transfer tests.

In recent days, Belfast Royal Academy (BRA) and Victoria College Belfast - both of whom planned to give priority to pupils enrolled in their prep departments - changed their criteria following legal advice.

BRA had been facing a challenge but this was dropped.

A separate court challenge against St Malachy's College in north Belfast was this week rejected by a judge.

It has now emerged that several other schools have been granted permission to alter their published criteria.

Every schools' plans were made public on February 2. If a school wants to make alterations, for any reason, it must receive Department of Education approval.

The department confirmed that since February 2, six had sought changes.

As well as BRA and Victoria, the six includes Friends' School in Lisburn, Down High School, Foyle College and Assumption Grammar in Ballynahinch.

In the case of Friends' School, the change was minor due to one of its contributory primary schools originally having been left off a list.

It will give priority to applicants who are children of members of the Religious Society of Friends before then considering pupils from its prep department.

The department said it had no legal power to approve criteria or monitor their formulation.

"However, the legislation does give the department the power to issue guidance and approve revised criteria if, after publication date, a school wants to change them," a spokeswoman said.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news