Record entry for grammar school tests

Published Friday, 09 November 2012
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A record number of children are preparing to sit this year's unofficial transfer tests introduced by grammar schools across Northern Ireland.

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Almost 14,000 pupils will undertake the first of this year's examinations on Saturday.

The figure has risen steadily each year since 2009, the year after the 11-plus was scrapped, with around 100 extra pupils taking the tests each year.

The increase is most marked with regards to the GL test, which is mainly used by Catholic grammars.

But one principal of a Catholic school has told UTV that the sector is beginning to move beyond academic selection.

"The tests are not unstoppable because the maintained sector, the Catholic schools, have given a very firm commitment - lead by the Catholic Bishops - to move away from academic selection," Dr Seamus Quinn, head teacher at St Patrick's Academy said.

"There are two grammar schools that have already said that they will comply with that."

Sinn Féin Education Minister John O'Dowd was not available for comment on Friday.

But the DUP chairman of the Education Committee said it was obvious that there was parental support for academic selection.

"We still have parents who are saying this is the process we want and this is the one we are choosing," North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey said.

© UTV News
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9 Comments
kitty in newry wrote (526 days ago):
The reason why there has been an increase in pupils doing the transfer test is because if they want the chance of getting into a grammar school they have to do it, they have no choice. It is the most unfair testing of a child,and at the wrong age, our primary school do not agree with it and do not prepare the children in any way but the three schools just a few miles apart actually keep their P7 pupils in after school for tuition and some also have their principal tutoring them on a sat morning. My child will take the test on sat alongside these other children and she is at a big disadvantage compared to these kids. YES THIS IS THE MOST UNFAIREST TEST EVER
v in belfast wrote (528 days ago):
Children need to learn to deal with stress it's a normal part of life and protecting them doesn't do them any favours. Academic selection is the only way a child has an opportunity to go to a decent school and they don't need to have tutors if parents work with their child regularly and keep informed of how they are managing in school. Being honest secondary schools are a dumping ground for children with no where else to go. Orangefield high school is a prime example 17 different languages spoken in the school loads of social and behavioural problems in the school which lead to poor academic attainment for the other pupils who wanted an opportunity to do well because they were forced to accept children from everywhere and now they are closing. The politicians need to make secondary schools a decent place to get an education if they ever want to scrap academic selection otherwise people will keep fighting for a place in the top schools for their child regardless of anything else
vic in Belfast wrote (529 days ago):
My son is going though the GL on sat next, He wants to go to a grammer so I have no choice. Every child in his class has a tutors at home because they can afford it so the children whos parents have some cash to spare have a better chance, that is true in life in general.Our society will always be geared to keeping the working class where they belong someone has to brush the streets and was dishes. There will only be equality when there is a party that can Truly represent the working class green and orange, unlike all the present parties who profit from keeping us seperated.
Martella Murdock in Ballymena wrote (530 days ago):
I have a child in P7 who is not sitting the entrance exams. I was going to let him take both sets of exams as he wasn't sure what Grammar school he wanted to attend.The stress the test papers caused my son over the summer holidays made me rethink our original plans. My child suffers from Autism and I had this to take into account. He is very capable of doing the papers but put him in an exam setting and the stress becomes too much. I also has to consider the fact that after taking the test that he may not get to the school of his choice and for a child with Autism that could be very upsetting. The government need to do something about this mess. Very hard as a parent to know what to do.
Parent in Lurgan wrote (530 days ago):
My child was tested every year in primary school including a baseline assessment in P1. Had he chosen a local secondary school at aged 11 he would have had to do an entrance test for that school too. Thankfully he went to a prestigious grammar school and is now at a world class university. Regrettably the NI government does not help with tuition fees for gifted young people at Oxbridge and other top 10 universities. Policy makers should really start to think outside the box. It is them that are traumatising these young people causing them added stress about financing their education. And working class kids are already acknowledging in large numbers that studying at a top 10 university is not financially viable. As a parent I have never been consulted about any of these critical reforms but thank you UTV for letting me vent it here!
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