Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Pupils withdrawn over school test

By Maggie Taggart
BBC NI education correspondent

exam
Parents are concerned about the uncertainty over the transfer system

Parents have withdrawn their children from a County Down primary school, the BBC has learnt.

The parents at Millennium Integrated Primary in Carryduff believed the school was not going to coach pupils for a replacement to the 11 plus.

It follows the news that a teachers' union told primary schools it was illegal to help pupils prepare for the test.

The school has blamed the loss of seven pupils on a "misunderstanding".

It said it would be preparing pupils for up to three different sorts of exams to cover the diversity of its pupil population.

The problem highlights the pressures faced by primary schools from parents worried about the uncertainty over next year's transfer system.

However, a teachers' union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has told its members it is illegal to divert from the new primary school curriculum during school hours to coach for the new tests.

But it said there was nothing to stop grammar school staff helping to run the exams.

They said teachers in either sort of school should get paid for their extra efforts and should make sure their school was insured against legal action.

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