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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 16:13 GMT
Transfer test must go says exams body
Calls for immediate changes to transfer test
Calls for immediate changes to transfer test
By BBC NI education correspondent Maggie Taggart

The Northern Ireland examinations body has told the review into secondary education that the current 11 Plus transfer test must go.

The Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment sets and marks the transfer tests, but has admitted that the way the 11 Plus exam is graded is unreliable.

It says immediate changes to the current system are needed.

The review body, set up by education minister Martin McGuinness, is to consider and make recommendations on the most appropriate future arrangements for post-primary education.

Gavin Boyd
CCEA spokesman Gavin Boyd

CCEA Spokesman Gavin Boyd said: "We would like to see a move away from selection, and certainly the transfer test, as soon as possible.

"In the short term I regret, but it seems to us that there's an inevitability about having some means of selection and some means of moving children from primary schools to post-primary schools over the next couple of years.

"The best that we can do in the very short term is some modifications in grades and some modification in timing," he said.

That would mean cutting the number of grades back from six and running the tests later in the school year.

The CCEA said the secondary curriculum, which it devised and monitors, is too rigid, too narrow and too academic.

However, it does not recommend making schools only academic or only vocational , saying there should be diversity with some specialising in subjects like science or the arts.

Teachers unhappy

A large majority of parents and primary school teachers are unhappy with the 11 Plus because many children who do not pass the selection test feel they have "failed" at an early age.

Education minister Martin McGuinness
Education minister Martin McGuinness

Pupils who pass the test have a better opportunity to attend grammar schools, whose students traditionally produce better results in secondary level GCSE and A-level exams than those attending secondary schools.

A report published on the effects of the transfer system last year suggested five alternatives, including keeping the current system.

These range from total comprehensive education to secondary schools offering much more practical, vocational courses.

In the longer term the CCEA believes that all key educational choices should be made on the basis of an informed selection involving parents, children and teachers.

The Review Body on Post Primary Education is expected to publish its findings in May.

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See also:

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