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Last Updated: Friday, 3 February 2006, 06:33 GMT
Schools prepare for 11-plus end
School fence
Catholic schools in Northern Ireland have begun preparing to implement proposed legislation which would see the 11-plus examination being scrapped.

Bishop Donal McKeown of the NI Commission for Catholic Education said it had set up a regional board.

He said the board would consult with communities on how best to deal with issues of reconciliation, as well as how to handle new admissions criteria.

The last 11-plus transfer test is scheduled to be held in 2008.

The commission said in a statement it had "recognised the significant changes in government policy and its implications on education in Northern Ireland".

Demographic downturn

It said the issues of continuing demographic downturn and financial challenges would "undoubtedly have major implications for their schools".

The commission, which comprises the diocesan and religious trustees for Catholic schools, said it proposed "to introduce the new admissions and curriculum arrangements into Catholic schools in a planned, structured and inclusive way".

Bishop McKeown said the commission was committed to ensuring "diversity of provision within the Catholic sector".

"The structured approach to be undertaken will enable the Catholic sector to adequately prepare for the new arrangements in education which will be required over the next five years," he added.

In January 2004, the then education minister Jane Kennedy announced the government was abolishing academic selection in Northern Ireland.

The first move to remove the system was made by Stormont minister Martin McGuinness hours before he left office in October 2002.

Primary seven pupils are set to receive their 11-plus results on Saturday.

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