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 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 

Transfer Test for 2010

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.

No controlled grammar school input

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.

Posted by aquifer 
 on Mar 03, 2010 @ 07:34 AM
If parents wish to obtain certainty for transfer testing for 2010 they should pick up the phone to AQE on 02890753746  http://aqe.org.uk/3.%20contact_us.html
 and their preferred grammar school and ask them to confirm the provision of AQE CEA tests.
 Nothing could be simpler.


3 into 2 won’t go