Page last updated at 16:34 GMT, Monday, 16 March 2009

Exam 'may need Irish translation'

Transfer test
The last 11-plus exams were sat in 2008

Grammar schools setting their own transfer tests may have to translate them into Irish, Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has said.

She said pupils from Irish medium primary schools must get an equal chance, and failure to do so could lead to legal challenges from parents.

An Irish language education body has requested schools provide translations.

One of the groups of grammar schools has already arranged translations, but another has not yet decided what to do.

Ballymena Academy, which intends to link up with Catholic schools to provide a verbal reasoning test, has approved an Irish language version.

However, a spokesperson for the Association for Quality Education said they had not made a final decision, adding that pupils would be taught in English at the grammar schools to which they were applying.


The representative body for Irish-medium education in Northern Ireland, Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta, has written to grammar school groups about the matter.

Spokesman Seán Ó Coinn said parents could remove their children from Irish language schools or take legal action if a suitable translation was not available.

"We're unclear what the implications might be, and it very much depends on how parents react," he said.

Last year, the Irish language version of the 11-plus transfer test was sat by 150 out of 327 eligible pupils.

More than 15,000 primary seven pupils sat the final 11-plus last November, but academic selection is still allowed for the time being.

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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