Good luck to all the pupils waiting for their transfer test results. The children and their parents/guardians are to be commended for their efforts. The children, not least, for being willing to have their numeracy and literacy skills tested and excerising their right to compete for a place in a grammar school. The parents/guardians for supporting the efforts of those schools determined to deliver the equality of opportunity that a transfer test affords. 2013 is the forth year that the “unregulated” tests have been organised and delivered to the highest of standards and it is testament to those who have resisted the determination of an Education Minister hellbound on removing parental choice for a grammar school education to match the needs of their children.
It is important when the results are known not to fall into the annual trap generated by opponents of selection by stressing over the marks or grades (these always remove information and should not ever be compared to the old CCEA grading system) obtained by the pupil. Expect and resist the rumour mill but instead arm yourself with the knowledge that until the admissions process is completed no one can issue a guarantee of a place at any grammar school. The marks/grades from previous years may give a reasonable indication of a school’s 2013 intake but do not be put off in listing a preference because of something someone has told you “on good authority” or “inside information”. Remember that Open Enrolment has resulted in about 42% of post-primary pupils getting a place in a grammar school.
In making a selection of preferences it is important to take into consideration future plans for the schools. There is little benefit in choosing a school which in a short period will no longer be a grammar school. The school is unlikely to inform you of their change in direction, after all they are competing for your child and relying on their marketing efforts. Your child will not benefit in the long run. Forty plus years of research evidence and data on attainment shows that mixed ability schools generally produce lower attainments at GCSE and A-Level.
Add to that the negative impact of the revised curriculum and the entitlement framework and the Education Minister's insistence in breaking parity on examinations with England and this year's cohort of parents making vital decisions on behalf of their children must be sure of their choices.
Specific information on schools will follow
December 12, 2011
Back in May 2011 UTV broadcast a story of parents reporting the leaking of the 2009 GL Assessment 11-plus test in a Catholic Grammar School.
According to the Belfast Telegraph of Tuesday 13th December,2011
“It is understood the school at the centre of the scandal, which has not been named, [why not since the school committed a breach of contract?] photocopied the 2009 GL Assessment English and maths papers, later used as a practice paper to prepare some children for the 2010 transfer test.
Copying the papers was in contravention of the school’s contractual agreement with the English-based GL, which is responsible for the tests’ content.”
Note in the UTV extract the statement from Fintan Murphy of the Catholic Principals Association.
On foot of this story GL Assessment issued a Press Release. Note the claim from GL Assessment that:
If this allegation is substantiated it would constitute a breech of security and copyright by the school involved
Today, after months of delay, Education Minister, John O’Dowd released the findings of his so-called investigation into the matter of those given the test in advance of the 2010 PPTC transfer test. There is no doubt that those who saw the 2009 paper had an advantage. As usual the BBC NI Education Correspondent, Maggie Taggart, entirely missed the fundamentals of this issue and gave the Minister’s nonsense views precedence over the failure to hold to account those responsible for valid and reliable testing. Perhaps parents are failing to appreciate the abject failure of the professionals in education to get to the core of issues involving very serious matters concerning their childrens future. The important message in the BBC report demonstrates the arrogance of the educationalists position.
“A claim that the 2009 test had been leaked could not be investigated because those involved wanted to remain anonymous”
UTV broke a story on the unregulated transfer tests http://www.u.tv/News/Transfer-tests-leaked-to-parents/aa9483bf-7684-4e40-926a-e18574a0ab69 UTV decided only to mention this development on their website thereby robbing parents and pupils of an opportunity to ask pertinent questions of their school principals and teachers.
At present GL assessment have yet to deny the growing belief that questions appearing in the 2009 test may re-appear in the 2011 version. If this turns out t be the case the validity and reliability of the PPTC sponsored test is destroyed.
Parents will recall PACE’s previous warning about the lack of specification for the GL Assessment test
The timing of this story (found only on the UTV internet site) is typical of the multiple cynical attempts to manipulate and stress parents by those opposed to academic selection. Did it really take a year to discover what many insiders knew last year about the validity and reliability of the GL Assessment Tests commissioned by the PPTC?
PACE has highlighted the lack of a specification for the GL Assessment test. Perhaps Mr Ronnie Hazzard of the PPTC will rush to deny this assertion by his friends in the Catholic Principals group?
November 18, 2010
The Irish News http://www.Irishnews.com (Thursday November 18, 2010) has further highlighted concerns already raised by PACE NI on the GL Assessment tests to be taken by thousands of pupils seeking places in Catholic grammar and a few schools this weekend. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2010/09/25/aqe-and-gl-assessment-testsattempts-to-confuse-parents-over-a-common-test/
GL Assessment have admitted that the questions used from their inherited bank of NFER questions could be recycled, i.e. resold elsewhere. Simon Doyle, education correspondent, strangely fails to explain to Irish News readers the nonsense statement from GL Assessment that their unwillingness to release past papers was simply;
“In order to maintain the security and integrity of our tests”
GL Assessment spokeperson
the important principle addressed in testing circles – the vaidity and reliability of high stakes tests.
No mention at all by the Irish News or GL Assessment or the Post Primary Transfer Consortium of any measures of the validity and reliability of any inferences to be drawn from the tests.
The PPTC are directly misleading parents in their claim that the PPTC GL tests are based on the Northern Ireland Key Stage 2 revised curriculum. Since the tests were not designed exclusively for Northern Ireland and predate the introduction of the revised curriculum such a claim is unwarranted and misleadng. This issue underscores the difference between the PPTC GL tests and those of AQE whose CEA test questions match the former 11-plus tests prepared by NFER. It also highlights the nonsense claim published in the Belfast Telegraph regarding Victoria College’s use of the two tests to determine admission. There can be no equivalence between the two tests. Victoria College are simply pandering to parents from two different communities in order to keep their application numbers up.
Of course those adopting the inferior GL Assessment tests have persisted with the false claim to parents that talks to agree one test are likely to achieve a positive outcome. There is absolutely no likelihood of that happening since it was the anti-academic selection PPTC who broke away from the AQE in the first instance with a GL Assessment test to counter the fear that Catholic parents would abandon Catholic grammars if testing was withdrawn. Parents should note the continued silence from Finbar McCallion of the GBA who appeared regularly over the summertime on the airwaves of the BBC promising resolution of the single test conundrum.
Parents may need reminding also of the PPTC’s failure to adhere to standards in relation to testing by their refusal to publish the specification of the GL Assessment test. Prior to Saturday’s tests parents are advised to contact their school to demand a copy of the specification. Any refusal to provide same may provide a basis for appeal if entry to the school was ultimately rejected. Ronnie Hazzard of Ballymena Academy and the PPTC has persisted in his refusal to supply a copy of the specification to PACE in response to an FOI request. Can parents have any confidence that their childrens’ interests will be best represented by a school which fails to comply with the FOIA law?
September 25, 2010
This advertisement appeared in the Antrim Guardian last week three days before the closing date for parents/guardians applying for this year’s 11-plus entry tests.
Of immediate note is that the three schools mentioned, Ballymena Academy, Slemish College and St Louis Grammar School are all members of the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC).
There is no mention of this important fact in the advertisement. The PPTC commissioned GL Assessment to provide the multiple choice tests for which they paid approx £350,000. The group then claimed that the tests were “free”. Finbar McCallion of the GBA spend time over the summer trying to convince the public that a common test would result.
The advert in the Antrim Guardian makes no mention of the PPTC, GL Assessment or the fact that the tests are multiple choice. The reason underpinning this reticence is that behind the scenes the GBA, the Governing Bodies Association are attempting to persist with the fallacy that a common or single tests will unite the two groups the AQE and the PPTC. Nothing could be further from the truth. The two tests only came about when the PPTC and the Catholic schools majority of the GBA refused to offer the AQE tests to their schools. In effect the 11-plus transfer system was both sectarianised and devalued. It should be remembered that the Catholic hierarchy have committed to end academic selection in their schools by 2012. Any multiple choice exam based on the revised curriculum serves the PPTC purposes but in effect misleads AQE parents and according to one well placed source “devalues education”.
The individual behind the false claim of a common test is Finbar McCallion, former headmaster and GBA chairman. Mr McCallion promoted the Education First campaign.The campaign, set up by the Governing Bodies Association (GBA), was officially launched at the Linenhall Library in Belfast. Finbar McCallion, chairman of the Governing Bodies Association, said:
“We agree that the 11-plus must go but we accept that it is incumbent upon the main interests in this debate that we all have a responsibility to assist in the development of an alternative – one which best matches our children with the most appropriate education.”
In case MrMcCallion has missed the news due to illness in the family post The St Andrews Agreement – academic selection by valid and reliable testing remains legal for admission to grammar schools.
In 2002 the chairman of the GBA, representing grammar schools in Northern Ireland returned to his job following a so-called row over comments made by senior Catholic bishops.
Finbarr McCallion took the decision to withdraw his resignation from the Governing Bodies’ Association over the weekend after he received a unpublished letter from the bishops. (this letter remains secret).
“Mr McCallion stepped down last week after Bishop John McAreavey, chairman of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, said that selection in schools should end as soon as possible.”
And Bishop Donal McKeown said that grammar schools could not continue in their current form, given an expected demographic downturn and low numbers.
Recently Mr McCallion has been aided in his efforts on a common test by Ronnie Hazzard of Ballymena Academy and Dermot Mullan of Our Lady & St Patrick’s College, Knock.
Good luck with that gents – parents are on to you.
The fact that parents have not been provided with a specification for the GL Assessment tests offered by the Post Primary Transfer Consortium is a breech of recognized International Standards on testing.
Despite an FOI request for the specification of the GL Assessment tests used by many schools last year made to the PPTC no specification has yet been provided. GL Assessment claim that a specification was agreed with PPTC.
Section 5:10 of the American Psychological Association (APA) standards address specification requirements.
Parents were encouraged to enter their children for the Post Primary Transfer Consortium’s GL Assessment Test to facilitate their transfer to grammar school. One of the most prominent inducements was that the tests were claimed to be free in contrast to the AQE (Association of Quality Education) CEA (Common Entrance Assessment) charge of £35.
The facts are otherwise.
The broadcast and print media made much of this distinction although not one correspondent produced any investigative findings to explain how GL Assessment were to be paid for their activities.
Figures provided in a delayed answer to a Freedom of Information request to Ballymena Academy reveal that a sum close to a quarter of a million pounds may have been paid by participating schools.
The source of the funds used by Ballymena Academy is not disclosed but averages over £28 per pupil.
Instead of one agreed common assessment test for grammar schools it appears that unidentified leaders from the PPTC wanted to make a distinction over £7. Unsuprisingly talks aimed at agreeing a common test have failed.
Parents of Ballymena Academy will no doubt be asking themselves why they are expected to fund applications from parents from various primary schools many of whom do not end up attending the school.
There is no free school lunch from the PPTC.
This is the undated, unattributed, incomplete and tardy response received from the Headmaster of Ballymena Academy Grammar School, Ronnie Hazzard in response to an FOIA request sent by the Parental Alliance for Choice in Education in March 2010. The postmark on the letter was 4th June, 2010.
Ballymena Academy joins a growing list of grammar schools appearing to think that the law on providing information, as a public authority, does not apply to them. Mr Hazzard’s personal assistant first claimed that the request had not been received when contacted after the 20 working day deadline had passed. An immediate e-mail with the original request date-stamped instantly disavowed the claim.
Read the request here and note carefully how Ballymena Academy totally ignored the first question and also subtly reworded questions posed.
No doubt the Information Commissioner’s Office will have something to say on the matter.
AQE and GL Assessment tests and the GBA: Information for parents
While decisions over admission to grammar schools from last years tests have yet to be announced, the secrecy surrounded a group claiming to represent grammar schools (Parents – have you ever heard of or from them?) are busy making sure this year will be just as perplexing.
The BBC has carried accounts about the development of “one test” and allowed an expectation to flourish that such an outcome is possible. However the BBC have failed to differentiate between a single set of tests (a combining of those schools using AQE and GL as the test provider) and one exam instead of two or three.The facts and history prove otherwise.
Enter the role of the GBA. The Governing Bodies Association claim to represent the voluntary grammar schools. Exactly who represents your local grammar school and in what capacity is not made clear http://www.gbani.org/?tabindex=15&tabid=810
The GBA have two secretaries, many spokesmen but no treasurer even though they demand membership fees. A claim from their website states:
It supports, in appropriate ways, Governors, Principals, Teachers, Pupils and Parents. Members work tirelessly on a voluntary basis for all young people in the province. To achieve its aims it interacts with the business, commerce, industry and other public services.
It fails to mention the close, some would say, intimate, relationship with the Minister of Education and the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the DENI. Hence the statement by Caitriona Ruane yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster that she was aware of full details of a recent meeting of the GBA held in Methodist College, Belfast , including the fact that there was no agreement on a single test.
There are 52 grammar schools eligible for membership but the entire state controlled grammar school sector are excluded.
Twice in the last month Finbar McCallion, Hon Secretary of the GBA, was interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster Good Morning Ulster. Mr McCallion raised the issue of the “one test” and spoke of a search for consensus on the basis of the specifications for the AQE and GL Assessment tests being “similar”. A specification for the GL Assessment test has yet to be disclosed to parents. How can a test be valid or reliable without a specification prepared in advance? Was Mr McCallion misleading parents and the public to avoid further difficulties for the Minister’s failed strategy prior to the General Election? How is that Mr McCallion can claim to have compared the two specifications? In what capacity did Mr McCallion have access to the GL Assessment specification ? Who are the Joint Commissioning Group he referred to on BBC Radio Ulster? Is he a member? Which schools have agreed to this arrangement?
PACE contacted GL Assessment requesting a copy in February and were referred on the basis of commercial confidence to the Post Primary Consortium. An FOI request to Ballymena Academy, a GBA member school using the GL Assessment test is still pending a response.
Mr McCallion implied to the listeners that the two testing providers were actively working on a common test. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr McCallion and fellow travellers such as Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Wilfred Mulryne, Scott Naismith, David Manning seem willing to see all grammar schools go the way of the Catholic grammars, i.e. to comprehensive status. Hiding the intent behind descriptions such as “all ability, foundation, bipartite ” or otherwise does not change the essential fact that a school failing to use academic selection by testing at 11 is not legally a grammar school. Even the GBA managed to point this out to the Minister for Education. Why they waited so long to do still requires an answer.
The two GL Assessment multiple choice tests are not similar or comparable to the AQE CEA “constructed response” tests. That being so, the motivation for introducing GL Assessment tests, mainly by the Catholic schools, is raised. The question of who paid GL Assessment for the creation, trialling, administration and marking of the test has yet to be answered. The AQE test was available to all grammar schools. Two tests were introduced in order for the Catholic grammars to achieve a goal identified on Slugger O’Toole by one poster.
“generations of Catholics who were abandoned and left to rot by self righteous institutional sectarianism”
The catholic church chose to set up a parallel sectarian system, and the state disgracefully acceded.
State schools were always open to catholics, still are, which gets us to the real reason the catholic church will keep selection at least until it it ended in the state sector.
They don’t want catholics going to mixed grammar schools, where they are already very welcome, especially for the schools’ accountants.
on Mar 03, 2010 @ 07:34 AM
3 into 2 won’t go