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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Calls for end to 11-plus test
Review of test to be published on Wednesday
Northern Ireland's largest teaching union has called on Stormont Education Minister Martin McGuinness to make this the final year of the 11-plus transfer test.

A major review ordered by the minister into the controversial transfer test will be published on Wednesday.

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

Tom McKee, of the teachers' union NASUWT, said most people now accepted the system was discredited and should be scrapped.

"If he doesn't then he is subjecting children to unnecessary pressure for some time to come.

Eddie Ferguson
Eddie Ferguson hopes for dramatic move

"You should look at the experience of schools in the north Armagh system. They don't have to put children in for the transfer procedure. They can get on with normal teaching in P6 and P7," Mr McKee said.

Schools in the north Armagh area opt out of the 11-plus exam and all pupils transfer to a junior high after primary seven.

'Dramatic change'

That is one of the systems scrutinised by the Post Primary Review body, which has been working on its report for the last year.

It got an extra six months to complete its task and one of those consulted on the changes, Eddie Ferguson, has high hopes that the report will be radical.

Mr Ferguson, of the Association of Head Teachers and Lecturers, said: "I'm hoping for a dramatic change.

"I do hope that selection at 11 will be abolished, will be history in Northern Ireland.

"My one concern is, we're not absolutely certain what will take its place."

Curriculum change

It is hard to find anyone that supports the current selection system but grammar schools depend on it and are nervous about alterations which might detract from their academic strengths.

Dr Wilfred Mulryne, principal of Methodist College in Belfast, refuted any suggestion that grammar schools were against change.

"Clearly we believe we've produced a very good product - not just from the grammar schools and that's the important thing, but from Northern Ireland education generally.

Dr Wilfred Mulryne
Dr Wilfred Mulryne: Curriculum change needed

"With some modification, particularly to the curriculum, we could continue to do that without vast changes to the structures of our schools," said Dr Mulryne.

On Monday, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly backed a motion put forward by the Education Committee calling for the 11-plus to be replaced.

Committee chairman Danny Kennedy said it was clear from those who had given evidence to the committee that there was widespread dissatisfaction with the present transfer tests.

"The committee therefore believes that the two one-hour tests are no longer appropriate and we recommend that the current tests should cease to be administered from a future date that is feasible."

Martin McGuinness has previously said he is not interested in simply tinkering with the system.

See also:

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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