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Good morning and congratulations on your patience over a long winter. This morning you will receive the results of your child’s transfer test. All of the effort, costs, studying, revision and application cumulate in the mark revealed this morning and all children are to be congratulated regardless of the result.
Today is a day of mixed emotions for parents; the elation and relief blended with perhaps some sense of pride and appreciation that your child is soon to be fleetingly venturing out in the journey towards adulthood. Be sure to enjoy the day.
Of course with parents a fresh set of anxieties replace the old and thoughts immediately turn to trying to figure out if the mark or grade (grades remove information) will secure a place in the grammar school of choice. Children will naturally be inquisitive and parents keen to answer with accuracy but it will be months before admission decisions are known. Schools will try to be helpful and reassuring but can guarantee nothing absolutely. Some will engage in an intense effort to market and promote their schools even at the cost of misinformation.
Political parties are in general officially opposed to academic selection (but privately their representatives choose to use transfer tests for their children) Many will not admit to this lest they lose a vote; those supporting compromise will talk of a single test (combining AQE and GL, not just one exam) but this is a problem they are unwilling to accept they are incapable of reconciling. Education is soon likely to be an issue on your doorstep during the current election campaign. In no other aspect of business would a government be allowed to interfere in the operation of private business. Bill Gates had a very clear message to those who would attempt to steal, duplicate or pirate his Microsoft products. The Department of Education seem to have no such reservations when it comes to meddling in transfer tests.
Former DUP First Minister Peter Robinson made much of his determination to deliver a single test. He left office defeated in this aim by the resolve of parents and a dedicated group of principled individuals who will not allow political expediency to destroy parental choice for an education suitable for their individual children.
When Arlene Foster became First Minister and the DUP chose the education ministry for the first time it became clear that the DUP were insistent on delivering on the single test goal to satisfy their partners in the Executive. This attitude is difficult to explain since PACE published two letters in the Ballymena Guardian in 2014 outlining very profound concerns over the use of two different tests for the same purpose. No political party or church has had a single word of response. Peter Weir was recently reminded of the warnings but has failed to adopt a leadership position by recommending the superior instrument; the AQE test.
The BBCNI news this morning via Robbie Meredith, Education correspondent tells listeners (parents of future tests takers) that sources inform him that
“talks are taking place between the two testing organisations to find a common exam”
The BBC are misinformed since a simple matter of fact checking exposes the inconsistency. One test is developed by AQE the other by GL Assessment. GL Assessment have not been involved in any talks with AQE involving a single test. The PPTC who deliver the test in mainly Catholic grammar schools have no ownership of GL Assessment products.
The Irish News (opposed to academic selection) were at least able to get close to a truth that the Education Minister, Peter Weir refuses to accept. Weir announced on November 17, 2016
” a team of educational professionals would seek to simplify the current transfer test process”
Mr Weir should read the Irish News more carefully.
Parents with children transferring to post-primary in 2017-18 should insist that politicians stop interfering in the matter of transfer testing since the Department of Education abandoned their responsibilities nine years ago.