Page last updated at 13:09 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Ruane says no to replacement test

Caitriona Ruane
Ms Ruane has rejected calls for a temporary replacement test

The education minister has rejected calls to allow a temporary replacement for the controversial 11-plus exam.

At a special session of the assembly's Education committee on Tuesday, Caitriona Ruane stood by her decision to cancel plans for an interim test.

She had been lobbied by parents' groups and politicians who want an official academic test to run for a few years.

They argued an official test would avoid the likelihood of unregulated tests by the grammar schools.

Mrs Ruane warnd: "Any test operating outside such legislative support is a legal minefield as those within some grammar schools who are proposing this approach are now finding out."

Chairman of the committee Mervyn Storey accused the minister of threatening schools and teachers.

He told the minister her tenure would be judged for "bringing about confusion, division and further segregation".

Ms Ruane said she was disappointed that the committee had failed to send her their own proposals and that its members could not reach consensus.

She denied threatening schools but said a small number were "blocking change".

The final 11-plus was held in Northern Ireland schools last November.

Many Catholic grammar schools have announced they will set independent tests, while more than 30 state schools say they will continue to use academic selection against Ms Ruane's wishes.

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