BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | 11-plus to be abolished

11-plus to be abolished

The last 11-plus transfer test will be in 2008

The 11-plus transfer test and academic selection in Northern Ireland are to be abolished.

Educationalists gathered at Stormont to hear Education Minister Jane Kennedy's announcement on Monday following consideration of the Costello Group's report.

The government-appointed working body was set up to suggest alternatives to the current transfer tests which determine, at age 11, whether a child will go to a grammar or secondary school.

The group has set a lengthy timescale. The last 11-plus transfer test will be in 2008. Pupils currently in Primary 2 will be the last to do it.

Ms Kennedy said the current transfer arrangements had significant weaknesses and there were inequalities of access for pupils.

"We don't need to wait until 2008 for changes to begin to happen. Parents can opt immediately not to enter their children for the test."
Jane Kennedy
Education minister

"This new development will essentially be a passport to learning for each pupil," she said.

"It will entitle them to access to a minimum number and range of courses, including for the first time, a choice of vocational courses, regardless of the school they attend or where they live.

The minister said academic selection would end and new transfer arrangements would be based on parental choice, informed by pupil profile and better information about options.

Costello 'unanimous'

According to BBC Northern Ireland's education correspondent Maggie Taggart: "The Costello group was unanimous in its recommendation to abolish academic selection as well as the unpopular 11-plus transfer test.

"The group had some members representing the grammar schools and although those schools will remain, from 2008 they will not be allowed to choose children on their academic ability.

In the run-up to the announcement, BBC Newsline carried out an in-depth opinion poll on what people think about the exam.

The BBC Northern Ireland's education correspondent said most of the 1000 people surveyed wanted to keep selection for grammar schools.

However, the majority thought that major decisions on a child's future should be delayed until children are older.

Of those questioned, the survey found that 56% thought that the current system was generally fair but that the 11-plus should be abolished.

But a majority of teachers - 53% - said it was not fair.

According to the survey, the area people live in has an effect on the answers they give. People in Fermanagh were most opposed to the current system.

A majority 63% said doing the test was not a positive experience whereas in Antrim, only 42% felt the same.

When asked if the 11-plus was fair, 42% of people in Fermanagh said it was, but, in Antrim, 62% of respondents felt it was a fair system.

Abolition move

Former education minister Martin McGuinness had moved to abolish the current secondary level education selection system hours before he left office in October 2002.

The Sinn Fein MP said the final 11-plus tests should be in 2004.

Ms Kennedy, who assumed the education portfolio when the Northern Ireland Assembly collapsed in October 2002, had said she intended to follow the course of action set out by Mr McGuinness.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?