Page last updated at 00:05 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

A P7's view of the final 11-plus

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Tony Harkin, Peter Gallagher, Daniel Roddy, Katelin Devine and Jenny Gray
Tony Harkin, Peter Gallagher, Daniel Roddy, Katelin Devine and Jenny Gray sit the test on Friday

They have spent almost a year preparing for it, but by midday on Friday it will all be over.

Thousands of pupils from across Northern Ireland will sit the final 11-plus paper on Friday.

While there is still uncertainty over what will replace the controversial test, one thing is clear - it will not be the same as this year.

The primary sevens at St Patrick's Primary School in Pennyburn, Derry, have all been working hard in the run up to the test.

P7 pupil Peter Gallagher said he had not found the preparation too difficult.

"I've found it OK, but some other children have found it really hard," he said.

"I think it's a fair way to decide what school you're going to go to, and I think people that are working hardest deserve to get their choice of school to go to.

"Grammar schools are a good place to be because they give you good lessons."

It doesn't matter what grade you get, you just have to believe you'll do well in life
Katelin Devine

His classmate Daniel Roddy also wants to go to a grammar school.

"It's been tough preparing for the exam, but once you get over it you feel like you've done well and you've given it your best shot," he said.

"I think I would say it's a fair test.

"It's been going on for so many years everyone knows what it's about and how it's marked," he said.

Tony Harkin disagrees. He said he could not wait to get the test over with.

"It's very hard," he said.

"I think it should be kept on because it's not fair on us having to do it and other children not having to do it."

Martin Coyle, principal, St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn
The principal of St Patrick's, Martin Coyle, says the 11-plus is stressful for children

Katelin Devine said she also found preparing for the test difficult.

"We're only 10 or 11 and it's just so much pressure," she said.

"I don't think it should go on.

"It's bad enough that we're put under pressure but to put the P6s under pressure as well, I just don't think it's right."

But Katelin said she was not worried about taking the exam.

"It's just another test. It's not going to affect our future in any way," she said.

"It doesn't matter what grade you get in your 11-plus, you just have to believe you'll do well in life."

Her friend Jenny Gray said she thought the 11-plus was a great way to choose your school.

"I want to go to Lumen Christi - it's a grammar school. It's been very hard work to try and get a grade A, but it will be worth it.

"I'm not that confident I'm going to get an A but I'm going to do my best."

Their principal at St Patrick's, Martin Coyle, said many of his pupils preferred the certainty of the 11-plus to the uncertainty surrounding the transfer of this year's P6s.

"Some of our P7s are almost glad they're not waiting and wondering what will happen to them," he said.

"They know what they have to tackle, and there's a relief in that.

"Of course, others do wish they didn't have to do it."

Mr Coyle said he was glad to see the end of the transfer test.

"I've never been a fan of the 11-plus.

"There's no way I can describe the stress and the worry that comes into homes when a child is doing the 11-plus.

"It's non-inclusive, it's highly competitive, and therefore it's divisive," he said.



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