Privatisation of post-primary transfer tests has led to significant concern for parents, says Mathison

Alliance Education Spokesperson Nick Mathison MLA has said that the lack of accountability in our post-primary transfer system has led to "significant concern and worry" for parents.

Education Nick Mathison

The Strangford MLA spoke out about poor communication regarding the new post-primary transfer tests, which are now under the management of SEAG, a new limited company. Parents have raised concerns about receiving information about the new system as well as difficulty in reaching the organisation when issues arise.
"While Alliance does not support academic selection, we are incredibly disappointed to hear of the significant concerns and worry felt by parents in relation to this year's transfer process.
"The problem coming out is that the Department of Education has no statutory role in this process - they don't even recommend schools use academic selection as part of their admissions criteria in the first place. Over the last few years a large part of our post-primary transfer process has been effectively privatised, resulting in an unaccountable system that fails to adequately serve our children.
"Parents rely entirely on their children's primary school and their communication around it, and it now transpires that SEAG will not offer consideration of any exceptional circumstances which led to a parent missing the application deadline. This blanket policy feels deeply unfair to the child caught in the middle of this process.
"A further question arises around public funds. If a school wants to be a member of SEAG, they have to pay an annual fee to the company. At a time when school budgets are under unprecedented pressure, the idea that public money is going into a privatised system, unregulated by the Department, is not the best way to run our post-primary transfer system.
"We are currently awaiting the report from the Independent Review of Education. I sincerely hope this review will tackle the issues affecting our current post-primary transfer system which serves neither schools nor pupils well."