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P7 pupils and parents deserve urgent clarity on transfer contingency plans, says Lyttle

Children due to sit the post-primary transfer tests and their parents deserve urgent clarity on contingency plans now the tests will not proceed as planned, Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said.

Mr Lyttle was speaking after AQE and PPTC would not proceed in January, only days before the first was due to take place. The East Belfast MLA said it was unacceptable children and their families had been put through such a “distressing” experience.

“January was always likely to be a difficult time during this pandemic, and the Education Minister has been told repeatedly this eventuality was entirely possible. School closure and disruption of exams is regrettable but is the advised course of action in such exceptional circumstances,” he said.

“Alliance has been calling for contingency plans to be put into place for almost a year now, and the Assembly Education Committee wrote to all selective schools in May, requests what plans they had if mass testing was prevented by the pandemic. This was followed by a major survey, receiving 8,500 replies from teachers, parents and children – the most popular of which was to not run the tests and post-primary schools to use non-academic admissions criteria. In addition, an Assembly motion in November unanimously called on the Education Minister to set out a contingency plan for post-primary transfer.

“Children in P7 and parents deserve better. They are owed a sincere apology and urgent clarity on how they will transfer to post-primary schools this year. In the meantime, they have been left in limbo.”