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Contingency admissions criteria urgently needed further to AQE cancellation and apology says Lyttle

Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has said a contingency admissions criteria for post-primary transfer is urgently needed, after months of frustration and distress for pupils, parents and teachers.

Speaking after AQE announced the full cancellation of its tests, Chris, Chair of Stormont’s Education Committee, said: “I acknowledge the AQE apology for the distress caused by persistent rescheduling of transfer tests despite exceptional circumstances, however, the unprecedented Public Health and disrupted learning grounds for cancellation of transfer tests have been clear for some time.

“Alliance has consistently called on the Education Minister to extend his decision to cancel exams on these grounds to transfer tests and to provide contingency criteria for grammar school admission this year.

“It remains unclear, however, whether there is a common understanding of what contingency criteria for grammar school admission this year should include and the Education Minister has yet to explain what he means by the use of ‘alternative data as a proxy for academic selection’.

“The extension to the deadline for submission of schools admissions criteria to the Education Authority provides the Education Minister with a short window of opportunity to work out what contingency criteria for entrance to grammar school for this year should include. Alliance is opposed to the transfer tests and academic selection but acknowledges the health and wellbeing of children involved in these exceptional circumstances should come first in any criteria.

“The frustration and distress experienced by many children participating in transfer tests during this pandemic has been unacceptable and Alliance remains committed to working with the Education Minister and all stakeholders for an urgent resolution to post primary transfer this year in the best interest of all children and families involved.”