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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 12:53 GMT 13:53 UK
Body to review post-primary plan
A working group of educationalists and representatives from the main churches are to examine the way forward for post-primary education in Northern Ireland.

The plan, announced by Education Minister Jane Kennedy on Thursday will continue to examine the options available to replace the current selection system.

The Burns review of Northern Ireland's education system, set up by former Stormont Education Minister Martin McGuinness, recommended an end to the controversial 11-plus transfer test.

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

The Burns Report also proposed that academic selection be scrapped, pupil profiles be used to help parents choose a school for their child, and schools be clustered in collegiates.

NIO minister Jane Kennedy
There are substantial areas of consensus and we need to build on these to develop future arrangements that will attract broad support
Jane Kennedy
NIO minister

The plans have been welcomed by some, and opposed by others.

Grammar schools have encouraged parents to send in responses which would vote for keeping some sort of academic selection.

They want the right to choose pupils of the highest ability, while others feel the plans are not radical enough.

The working group, which will be chaired by Steve Costello, a former member of the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), will report back to Ms Kennedy or to the relevant devolved minister by the end of October this year.

Explaining her decision, the minister said: "I have considered carefully the responses to the Burns consultation and, over the last number of months, I have met all the political parties to hear their views on the best way forward.

"There are substantial areas of consensus and we need to build on these to develop future arrangements that will attract broad support."

One of the key aims of the group will be to take account of the range of responses to the consultation, including the diversity of views on academic selection, and provide advice and recommendations on options for future arrangements for post-primary education.

The group will comprise members drawn from the education and library boards, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, Governing Bodies Association of Voluntary Grammar Schools, the trustees of Catholic voluntary schools, the Transferor Representative's Council (representing the three main Protestant churches), the integrated sector, the CCEA and the further education sector.

Ms Kennedy also announced that 500,000 extra funding would be made available so that some necessary groundwork could begin.

"This developmental package will help to prepare the ground for future arrangements," she said.

The minister also confirmed that pupils currently in P5 and P6 will sit the transfer tests.

"We will want to consider the recommendations from the working group before making any longer-term decisions, but for children currently in P4, parents and teachers can be reassured that they will be advised in good time of the arrangements that will apply."

Education proposals 'not enough'
17 May 02  |  Northern Ireland
Consensus needed over Burns Report
02 May 02  |  Northern Ireland
Children give views on 11-plus
22 May 01  |  Northern Ireland
Report calls for end of 11-plus
24 Oct 01  |  Northern Ireland

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