Page last updated at 12:03 GMT, Friday, 16 May 2008 13:03 UK

Ruane outlines transfer test plan

The issue of the 11-plus has proved controversial
The issue of the 11-plus has proved controversial

NI's education minister has faced the assembly's education committee about her plans for primary school transfer.

Caitríona Ruane aims to extend academic selection for three years before ending it.

It will take the form of one hour-long test of literacy and numeracy, and it will be held in a grammar school.

However, the minister faced sharp questions from unionist and SDLP MLAs whilst the DUP said her plans would not be agreed by the assembly.

The DUP's Sammy Wilson wanted to know why the test could not become standard if it would not, as Ms Ruane claimed, skew the primary school curriculum.

Ms Ruane was pressed on whether she might alter her plans if better proposals were made.

She said she would look at any good and sensible suggestions.

Friday's committee hearing followed a contentious meeting of the executive during which three separate proposals for progress were rejected.

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane
Caitríona Ruane is to speak to the NI Assembly

First Minister Ian Paisley said Ms Ruane's plans to reform academic selection could not go ahead without DUP and executive support.

Thursday's executive meeting ended without a full discussion of the plans.

Ms Ruane told the executive there were parties "who were anti-change in relation to education".

However, the first minister said her education proposals were not the basis for a way forward.

The minister's proposals have been criticised by grammar schools who said their acceptance of them would be "like turkeys voting for Christmas".

But Frank Bunting of teachers' union, INTO, said the plan was a sensible and pragmatic roadmap out of the impasse.

Last December, Ms Ruane announced the transfer test, commonly known as the 11-plus, would come to an end in 2008.

Ruane plans 'need DUP's support'
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10 May 08 |  Northern Ireland
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25 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland
Ruane attacks 'elitist' schools
24 Apr 08 |  Northern Ireland

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