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Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 16:14 GMT 17:14 UK
Children give views on 11-plus
The 11-plus test has sparked controversy
Many children found the exam extremely stressful
Northern Ireland children who have completed the 11-plus exam are giving their views of the test to the people who will decide its fate.

A report which examines the reality of doing the 11-plus from the perspective of the children who have done it was launched on Tuesday at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.

The 11-plus exam is a selection test for children in primary seven and determines which type of secondary school they transfer to.

A review of the selection procedure is currently being carried out in Northern Ireland and the review body is due to report its recommendations to the education minister later this year.

Save the Children

Your voice will be listened to

Education minister Martin McGuinness

Entitled Thoughts on the 11-plus, the report launched on Tuesday gives the views and opinions of more than 360 primary seven children on the subject.

Commissioned by Save the Children, it canvassed children's opinions from when they took the exam last autumn to receiving their results in February this year.

Education minister Martin McGuinness told many of the children who attended the report's launch at Parliament Buildings in Belfast: "Your voice will be listened to."

Education minister Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness: Will receive report

Gerry Burns, chairman of the Stormont-ordered review, said his group had received over 1,000 submissions on views of how the transfer process from primary to second level education should be handled.

However, none had been as "dramatic" as that put forward by the young people themselves, he said.

Save the Children said many children considered the test as part of life, but most tended to be extremely critical of it and found it very stressful.

Comments from the children included:

  • "It separates the smart from the dumb."

  • "I hate the transfer test. It's stupid. It should be banned. I think only the people with an 'A' like it and everyone else hates it. 25% get an 'A' and 75% get upset and there's only a few marks between them."

  • "When I got an 'A', I was on top of the world, I felt fantastic. I felt as though I could jump to the moon and back."

  • "When you open it up (the results notification) and you see you got a 'D' you feel like the world is going to end."

    "There were numerous comments about the stress and pressure that often accompanies the demands and expectations of teachers, parents and tutors to achieve highly," said the report.

    But not all children wanted the exam scrapped and saw it as a fair system.

    'Stupid schools'

    Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) chief Executive Michael Wardlow told Northern Ireland Assembly members the survey found low morale among youngsters who failed their 11-plus and felt they went to "stupid schools".

    Sammy Wilson: no evidence

    However, Stormont education committee chairman Danny Kennedy said there was "a danger that children would be encouraged in some way by those who hold a particular view to express that".

    Democratic Unionist Sammy Wilson claimed the concept of "stupid schools" was not based on any evidence unearthed by the government's investigation into post-primary education.

    This year, a total of 17,063 pupils took the 11-plus tests in Northern Ireland, with a total of 6,420 pupils awarded the top 'A' grade.

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    17 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
    Mother loses 11-plus dyslexia appeal
    31 Mar 01 | Northern Ireland
    Rally urges end to 11-plus
    10 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
    11-plus students get results
    28 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
    NI education debate begins
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