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Not using transfer tests must be given consideration, says Lyttle

Not using transfer tests for post-primary admission must be given serious consideration by the Education Minister, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has said, after the AQE organisation postponed the registration date for its transfer test.

Registration for P6 pupils has been delayed until May 14, with AQE saying it is to provide clarity for paretns due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It is understood the transfer tests themselves may be postponed until a later date this year or early 2021.

“The current approach to post-primary transfer here is flawed and inequitable, with a recent report from Stranmillis University College finding access to and performance in the transfer tests is mediated by socio-economic status,” said Mr Lyttle, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

“While school closures and social isolation are essential to protect people from the worst impact of coronavirus, it may well exacerbate this problem. Despite the best endeavour of dedicated teachers, variable internet and computer resources, work hours and capacity for distance learning will undoubtedly affect the preparation for the two sets of tests, meaning they will additionally inequitable.

“It is my understanding AQE and PPTC have asked the Department of Education and Education Authority to reschedule the post-primary admissions timetable to facilitate delayed preparation and administration of these tests.

“However, the option to not use tests as criteria for post-primary admission must be given serious consideration in these circumstances. Alliance will continue working toward a sensible outcome for children. As such, I have written to the Education Minister asking him for his plans in this regard.”