Page last updated at 17:45 GMT, Friday, 18 September 2009 18:45 UK

Transfer stance may hit members

Children sitting an exam
The deadline to apply to sit the transfer tests expired on Friday

A Catholic bishop has said the church will not appoint governors to grammar schools who disagree with its aim to phase out academic selection.

Catholic and non-denominational grammar schools are set to run their own exams.

This is against the wishes of Education Minister Catriona Ruane and Catholic bishops.

Bishop Donal McKeown said he would not be willing to appoint trustees who are "publicly opposed to what the bishops want to see".

Friday was the final day for parents of Primary 7 pupils to enter their children for the controversial grammar school entrance tests.

It is expected that around 12,000 pupils will sit one or both sets of tests in November and December.

There are only 8,800 first year places in those schools, so about a third of those pupils may not be accepted.

The unregulated tests have been organised in defiance of guidance issued by the Department of Education.

Frank Cassidy principal of Louis Grammar School in Ballymena said he hoped that "wise heads would prevail" in future appointments to boards of governors.

"Any board of governors can only take a school as far as the audience it serves wishes to go," he said.

"You can lead in a certain direction and hope that people will follow you so any actions that board of governors take will be informed by the reaction of the people they serve to those decisions.

"And I would hope that wise counsel will prevail and that decisions that are taken in the future about configuration of Catholic grammar schools will be wise ones."

Grammar school governors have been warned that they will need to show good reasons why they are ignoring her department's advice not to set entrance exams.

Guidelines issued to schools in advance of the unregulated entrance tests told primary principals to make sure parents put the results onto application forms.

The Department said it is up to grammar school boards of governors to check for false declarations.

It is understood plans for holding the tests are well-advanced with rooms allocated and exam supervisors recruited.

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