Northern Ireland news

More than 8,000 children across NI entered to sit this year's AQE post-primary transfer tests

The first AQE test is set to take place tomorrow

MORE than 8,000 children are entered to sit this year's AQE post-primary transfer tests following last year's cancellation due to the pandemic.

The tests run by the Association for Quality Education (AQE) are being held over the next three Saturdays, with the first due to take place tomorrow.

It comes after around 5,450 P7 pupils last week sat the GL Assessment test run by the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC), which was held in 21 post-primary schools.

There will also be a supplementary PPTC test on December 11.

Although transfer tests have not taken place for two years due to Covid-19, the existing structures mean children can sit up to five exams if they enter both testing systems.

Many pupils enter into both sets of tests to give themselves a greater chance of gaining a grammar school place.

Figures show that 8,289 children are entered for this year's AQE tests with a similar number entered for last year's cancelled assessments.

The two previous years saw a higher number of pupils registered, 8,634 in 2019/20 and 8,674 in 2018/19, while the figure was lower in 2017/18 - 8,066.

There have been some changes made to the separate transfer tests this year to take account of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, with children told in advance that they will not be tested on some particular topics.

Children sitting the tests over the next few weeks will receive their results on February 5 2022.

The tests are used by the vast majority of grammar schools in the north to select pupils.

There had been calls for all schools to drop academic selection for a second year due to the long periods of lockdown affecting children's education.

Several Catholic grammars and the integrated school Lagan College in Belfast have opted out this year and said they will again not use academic selection to admit pupils in September 2022.

Earlier this year, grammars used a number of non-academic criteria to admit pupils instead.

But that led to a sharp rise in the number of appeals by parents against decisions by schools not to offer their children a post-primary place.

A single common transfer test is expected to go ahead in November 2023 after an overwhelming majority of grammar schools backed it.

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