School selection tests 'fail children'

School selection tests 'fail children'

A primary school principal has hit out at the continued use of the unregulated entrance exams held for pupils entering secondary level education saying they "fail" the children.

John McGrady, principal of St Mark's Primary School in Belfast, was speaking as thousands of children, including some of his own pupils, received the results of the entrance test examinations.The final official 11-plus test was held in 2008, however, since then many secondary schools have used academic selection to determine who they admit.Schools use either the GL assessment or the AQE exam.It's thought around 14,000 pupils took the exams this year, believed to be a record number of entrants to sit the tests.Mr McGrady said he held reservations about the current system.He told UTV: "I think the system is not child-centred at all."I think the current system suits the schools.Having children go to another school in November to sit a non-regulated unproven secret test is not the way to go about children's post-primary education.John McGrady, St Mark's principal"We really need to take a good look at ourselves and ask ourselves what are we doing."There has to be a better way and urgently we need to address this situation because, I Believe, we are failing our children at the minute."UTV spent the morning with one young pupil from St Mark's who received his results.Shea McLaughlin received a B2 in the GL examination and hopes to go on to St Mary's Christian Brothers' Grammar in west Belfast.His mother Eileen O'Brien said: "It was better than we expected."We were hoping for a C, but a B2 is just brilliant."It will be May before Shea learns which school he will be attending in September."Hopefully he is off to St Mary's with his brother, so we are going to celebrate tonight," his mother added.

© UTV

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