Lyttle calls on Education Minister and all parties to show leadership after grammar schools confirm they won’t use transfer tests

Chris Lyttle Education

Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has called on the Education Minister and all parties to show leadership after a number of grammar schools confirmed they would not be using transfer tests this year.

Further to an increasing number of schools announcing they would not use tests, Mr Lyttle, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, said Alliance was committed to achieving a fair transfer solution for children, but “ideological considerations” should be parked by everyone this year.

“Schools are deciding not to use tests this year, stating they will instead use criteria set by their boards of governors to accept pupils for the forthcoming academic year,” he said.

“The Education Minister needs to take the decision that it is not viable for transfer tests to happen and provide contingency criteria for this year only. Alliance is opposed to the transfer tests but ideological considerations should be parked by everyone this year, in the best interests of the children involved.

“The Minister can give an extension to the period for board of governors to submit criteria for accepting pupils, to give this matter the consideration it deserves, and provide Departmental direction as to what the criteria should include.

“The proposal to use historic data is well intended and similar to the AQE Special Circumstances process, however, there are problems with the use of non-standardised practice papers and progress data from P5 designed to guide learning rather than selection.

“The uncertainty and distress experienced by many children and their families throughout this process has been unacceptable. Alliance is committed to working with the Education Minister and all stakeholders for an urgent and fair resolution in the best interest of the health and wellbeing of the children involved.”