Northern Ireland news

Results of first transfer tests in NI for two years due out today

Thousands of children will today receive the results of transfer tests

THE results of the first transfer tests to be held in Northern Ireland for two years are to be received by thousands of children today.

More than 8,000 pupils sat AQE papers, while around 5,450 children took the GL assessment, when the tests were held in November and December.

It was the first transfer tests to be held for two years following cancellations in 2020/21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

But the Association for Quality Education (AQE) last night told The Irish News that the "outcomes are remarkable and compare very favourably with those in previous years".

It said just 40 candidates were "unable to sit two or more assessments".

Post-primary transfer tests are used to select pupils, aged 10 and 11, by the majority of grammar schools in the north.

Pupils can choose to sit either the AQE or GL test, run by Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC), take both tests or decide not to take any.

However, 11 Catholic grammars and the integrated school, Lagan College in Belfast, said they would again not use academic selection to admit pupils in September 2022.

Some changes were made to the separate transfer tests to take account of disruption to schools caused by the pandemic, but some primary principals raised concerns about the impact that the soaring Covid-19 cases numbers among children.

At the time of the tests, infections were highest among 10 to 14 year-olds across Northern Ireland.

But the AQE spokesman said the number of pupils absent for tests was "in line with the normal pre-covid experience".

"It was the unanimous decision of the AQE member schools to proceed with this year's assessment and AQE Ltd wishes to acknowledge the support and hard work of children and parents involved in the 2021/22 transfer procedure," he said.

"The outstanding support of AQE member schools, who accommodated all candidates under difficult circumstances and the excellent work of primary schools in preparing their pupils in challenging times, must also be recognised and we would like to thank them for their hard work and commitment.

"The number of candidates who did not attend any assessments was four per cent of the original registrations.

"This is in line with the normal pre-covid experience as every year candidates choose not to attend.

"There are many reasons for this, and it is not possible to identify the number who did not sit any assessments due to the pandemic and those who did not participate for other reasons."

The spokesman also said "99.5 per cent of those children who sat the assessments will receive the normal standardised score when the results are released this weekend".

"Only 40 candidates were unable to sit two or more assessments and will receive a raw score for the single paper they completed which can then be used in their application to the school of their choice," he added.

"Given the current situation, the outcomes are remarkable and compare very favourably with those in previous years."

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

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