Northern Ireland news

Grammar schools to share plans for resumption of entrance tests

Grammar schools will share plans for entrance exams on Monday

GRAMMAR schools are preparing to set out their plans for the resumption of 11-plus-style entrance exams.

Details of this year's transfer tests will be shared with parents on Monday.

All exams were cancelled for P7 pupils earlier this year due to considerable disruption to their education.

There have been calls to abandon them for a second year because P6s have faced also significant upheaval.

They only returned to classrooms in March for the first time since December.

A growing number of schools in the Catholic sector - all members of the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) - have abandoned exams for children due to transfer next year.

St Michael's and Mount Lourdes in Enniskillen and Christian Brothers' School in Omagh are the latest. Several other schools in Belfast, Derry and Co Down have also said they will not use academic selection this winter.

The PPTC has said it will publish details of its plans for the 2021/22 assessment next week.

A separate group - the Association for Quality Education (AQE) - has already said its schools intend to initiate preparations for proceeding with tests this year.

PPTC held virtual meetings with parents and campaigners to help inform its decision making.

It sought views on where the assessments should take place, the type of assessments, mitigations that could benefit pupils and the dates of the tests - November as in past years, or December/January.

The meetings, which took place online, heard that parents favoured children sitting tests in primary schools.

A sticking point was that this needed to be an `all or nothing approach', however. There were concerns that some schools' boards would refuse.

There was said to be "no support" for re-introducing verbal reasoning exams, with parents in favour of continuing with the current maths and English format.

There was also no support for a post-Christmas assessment.

In a letter to schools, PPTC chairman Barry Kelly said the meetings had been helpful and constructive.

"PPTC has listened carefully to the views expressed and, as will become evident, have really helped shape our plans for 2021/22," Mr Kelly said.

"In this respect we have been working closely with our assessment provider, GL Assessment, to plan the actual entrance assessment papers and we have liaised with AQE regarding dates and other areas of common interest.

"The PPTC will publish details of plans for the 2021/22 entrance assessment on its website - www.pptcni.com - at noon on Monday May 10."

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