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Urgent action needed on Transfer Tests says Lyttle

The Education Minister has failed to take control of post primary transfer this year despite consistent calls for contingency planning throughout the pandemic, Alliance MLA Chris Lyttle has said.

The Chair of Stormont’s Education Committee, Mr Lyttle said ‘the Minister, the Association of Quality Education, the Post Primary Transfer Consortium and selective schools have deemed the mass testing of children during a public health pandemic, despite unequal learning opportunity, as the fairest and necessary approach but have not provided an alternative contingency plan.

“The approach, it appears, was to hope there would be no disruption to mass testing of children during the winter months of a public health pandemic,” he added.

“The Minister has, however, been required for public health reasons to partially close schools until Jan 11th with the first transfer test scheduled to take place in post primary schools on Jan 9th.

“There is legitimate concern as to how, in this exceptional situation, it is safe or legal to sit this test and yet understandably many pupils and parents also just want to be done with it.

“A definitive statement from the Education Minister, AQE, PPTC and host schools to confirm how mass indoor testing can take place within legal compliance of the current regulations is urgently needed.

“There is also confusion as to whether P7 pupils can return to school next week. I am going to be clear because I think the current health situation demands clarity. It is my understanding that the Department of Education has not permitted schools to return P7 pupils to school next week other than for vulnerable and key worker children supervised learning.

“It is clearly unacceptable for pupils, parents and teachers to be put in this position and those responsible need to provide urgent clarity on these serious matters.”