AQE, Belfast Newsletter, Ben Lowry, Carla Lockhart MLA, Department of Education, DUP, GL Assessment, Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, Peter Robinson., Peter Weir MLA, Professor Peter Tymms, Stephen Elliott
11-plus, AQE, Arlene Foster, CCEA, Democratic Unionist Party, DUP Education Policy, First Minister of Northern Ireland, Free School Meals, FSM, Gavin Boyd, Grammar Schools, KS2 Transfer Test, No Child Left Behind, Peter Weir MLA, Pupil Misclassification
The DUP’s Educational Incoherence
At the same time as the DUP has committed itself to a “No Child Left Behind” policy, Peter Weir (Chair of the Education Committee) suggested that the Party might return the Transfer Test to CCEA control. Has he forgotten that the current AQE test was written to address shortcomings – such as unacceptable high pupil misclassification rate – in the old CCEA test?
More worrying for the coherence of DUP education policy is the remarkably high proportion of children on free school meals (FSM) qualifying for grammar school places under the current AQE tests. ALMOST HALF of AQE entrants eligible for FSM are meeting minimal standards for grammar school entry. Handing the test back to CCEA would see a dramatic reduction in this number. In short, returning to a CCEA test would be entirely at odds with a policy of leaving no child behind.
Andreas Schleicher, AQE, Belfast Newsletter, Danny Kennedy MLA, Danny Kinahan MP, Department of Education Northern Ireland, dodgy dossiers, GL Assessment, John O'Dowd, Martin McGuinness MP, Mervyn Storey MLA, Michelle McIlveen MLA, NewsLetter, Northern Ireland Assembly, OECD Pisa, Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, Peter Wier MLA, PISA, private members business, Professor Svend Kreiner, Sammy Wilson MP
A challenge was made to John O’Dowd, Northern Ireland’s education minister to refute his error borne out of reliance on so-called international evidence provided by OECD Pisa data. The Minister has failed to respond. The minister is wrong and remains so.
The letter above was published in the Belfast Newsletter on Friday, November 6th, 2015.
When Sinn Fein education minister John O’Dowd deliberately used the term “dodgy dossier” in respect of transfer testing during Private Members Business in the Assembly on Tuesday, he reversed the truth.
The minister cited international evidence, based on Pisa scores, that selective education fails children.
Astoundingly not one of the unionist politicians present challenged the minister on the facts.
In a peer-reviewed analysis of that evidence, Professor Svend Kreiner wrote of OECD Pisa:
“Most people don’t know that half of the students taking part in the research do not respond to any reading items at all. Despite that, Pisa assigns reading scores to these children.”
In short, Pisa admit that they don’t measure curriculur content or attainment.
Therefore they cannot make an assessment on selective education systems.
Do the politicians who failed to tackle Mr O’Dowd or those schools participating in OECD Pisa not understand that half of the children in the minister’s research were assigned scores for tests they didn’t even sit?
Does anyone in Northern Ireland know of any pupil receiving an AQE or GL Assessment score without taking a test?
With children about to sit the first transfer test tomorrow, it is a pity that those assigned with opposition to the minister’s ideological campaign agaist selection did not challenge him on Tuesday.
If those politicians and their advisors won’t apologise for wrongly traducing the current transfer system, Mr O’Dowd should, on their collective behalf, make clear that it was he who was quoting from a dodgy dossier.
Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, Antrim
11-plus, academic selection at 11, Antrim Grammar School, AQE, Bands used in dualling schools, Campbell College Belfast, Dualling grammar schools, GL Assessment, Lagan College Belfast, St Patrick's Grammar School, victoria grammar school, Wellington Grammar school
Special warning notice to parents considering these schools.
Dualling schools are Victoria College, Wellington College, Campbell College, Lagan College (not a grammar school) St Patrick’s College, Downpatrick, and Antrim Grammar.
In order for your child to gain admission to these schools it is likely that they must have taken BOTH the AQE and GL tests. Dualling schools use some non-transparent method to place your child in a band. Evidence has been obtained that a significant number of pupils will be misclassified. Can you really afford to take this risk?
Now read this post for the details and suggested actions http://wp.me/pateI-CN
11-plus and admission procedure, AQE, AQE test results, Carol McCann, CCEA, Dr Bryan Gregory, G F Hamilton, GL A, Grammar school entrance assessments, Hilary Woods, John O'Dowd, Mr Francis Martin, Mr Owen O'Connor, Mr Sean Sloan, Mrs A McNamee, Mrs Susan Bell, Ms P Slevin, Ms Wilma Fee, Northern Ireland Education Minister, PPTC, R M Robinson MBE
The results of the transfer tests taken last November will be delivered to parents on Saturday 31st January 2015
This year saw a combined record entry of 14,531 pupils (66% of P7 pupils)
However a fundamental bias against children who have taken the AQE test can be identified in the admission procedure used by these dualling schools.
The schools using both tests in 2015 are:
Victoria College, Belfast
Campbell College, Belfast
Wellington College, Belfast
Lagan College, Belfast [this school is described as an all-ability integrated secondary]
St Patrick’s Grammar, Downpatrick
Antrim Grammar, Antrim
A single example will be used to illustrate this bias, but the example generalises to all the AQE-GL comparisons made by dualling schools. If parents examine the table used by dualling schools to make admission decisions, they will note that for GL candidates, a minimum standard score of 100 is required for admission to band 2†.
However, an AQE candidate is required to reach a higher standard (103) in order to be assigned to the same band.
An AQE candidate with the same standard score as the GL candidate will be placed in the lower band i.e. band 3.
In short, there will be a significant number of AQE test-takers assigned to band 3 (the lower band) who have nevertheless reached a higher academic standard than GL candidates assigned to band 2.
Since this seems to fly in the face of natural justice, it is vital that those schools using dualling can explain how this AQE bias can possibly be justified.
On behalf of your child, ask for an explanation, in writing, from the school chair of governors or alternatively seek legal advice.
†A candidate on the 50th percentile has, by definition, a standard score of 100.
11-plus, 11-plus and admission procedure, 11-plus results. Grammar schools, academic selection at 11, Andreas Schleicher, AQE, AQE tests, GL Assessment 11-plus tests, grammar school admission procedures, OECD, PISA, Post Primary Transfer Consortium, PPTC, selection at 11
As parents prepare for the new school year many will be considering their choices for their children on transfer tests. For four years two very different tests have been available through the Association for Quality Education (AQE) and the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC).
So which is the better test?
It is remarkable that the question has not been the subject of research given the amount of column inches used by the Northern Ireland print media over the tests.
One answer has been provided by Andreas Schleicher of OECD PISA, whose international rankings of countries education sysytems has resulted in policy changes.
In the August 2nd 2013 edition of the TES, Andreas Schleicher said;
Students whose teachers tend to expose them to open-ended rather than multiple choice tasks can be expected to perform better on the former than the latter
The Association for Quality Education is known to most parents because of their CEA 11-plus transfer tests. They have provided a professional competent service designed to fill the void left by Sinn Fein and the Westminster government when the CCEA 11-plus Transfer Test was abandoned.
The AQE also operate a campaigning and lobbying arm of their business which is less well known and could hardly be regarded as anything other than amateur. It would appear that many of their meetings with politicians take place in camera, in drawing rooms and in secret. Despite regular contact with politicians, directly or more commonly via intermediaries embedded in their orgainisation no public money or political support has been forthcoming. Rather than being protected by the political links they are viewed by the politicians as a pawn that can be moved about and sacrificed at will as part of any larger political deals.
The “about AQE” tab on their website refers readers to this role
Since its inception AQE has tried hard to produce relevant, unbiased and challenging papers to address a range of issues on our society and to maintain regular contact with a range of political leaders and party spokesmen on education on a broad spectrum of issues.
An example of their failure to protect their own interests is highlighted by their collective silence in addressing a subject splashed over several editions of the TES by Dr Hugh Morrison of QUB.
The Pisa controversy is relevant to Northern Ireland because the Education Minister and his advisors have used Pisa as “international evidence” that our system is so flawed that it needs his radical reform.
Parents must ask themselves why PACE are left to highlight these issues when the AQE Ltd claim it as their function.
No contribution from current or former AQE Ltd Directors such as Andrew Wilkinson, Ian Node, Rosemary Wilson, or Stephen Thomas Gowdy, any grammar school principals or teachers. QED
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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
Notes from the AQE letter of February 3rd, 2011 to parents and guardians signed by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield.
To view the entire document click here AQE
The first point is that Sir Kenneth Bloomfield uses the term “robust” to describe the AQE system, a term he used on 1st September, 2008 while calling for locally-elected politicians to reach crucial decisions about the future of our education system. https://paceni.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/bloomfields-latest-tragedy-of-errors/
Bloomfield’s affinity for a Pupil Profile remains intact and has not been rejected by him.
“A pupil profile, if meaningful and reliable, could provide for parents and potential receiving schools a useful summary of a pupil’s performance in primary education and facilitate the informed matching of pupils to schools.”
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield of the GBA and AQE
On P2 of the letter Sir Kenneth announces detail of the AQE CEA re-mark scheme. Parents will recall that disadvantaged pupils (those on Free School Meals) did not pay the £35 fee for taking the tests. However, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, on behalf of AQE announced the imposition of a £10 charge for those on FSM for requesting a re-mark. It is understood that the motivation behind creating further disadvantage for those already disadvantaged was to prevent members of the local community from flooding the AQE office with requests for remarks.
So to be clear – the AQE proclaims equality of opportunity for the disadvantaged in applying for grammar school entrance tests but effectively removes it by denying them equality in seeking a re-mark. PaceNI blog readers will hardly need reminding that Sir Kenneth Bloomfield’s school, Inst refused FOI requests from PACE seeking disclosure of the number of bursaries provided to disadvantaged pupils at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The exemption claimed by Inst was on the groulnds of cost to provide the information. While some member schools in AQE make claims of their desire to assist and support disadvantaged pupils Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, chair of governors of only one of two category B schools, destroys such claims by imposing charges for “free” tests.
Ken Bloomfield then goes on to claim in his letter about the help and assistance that primary school principals will provide during interviews for completing the transfer forms. Perhaps he should have read his own document,The Statistics from the Questionnaires of January 2011 which clearly indicate that only 67% of primary schools provided information on the AQE tests. Even those of limited mathematical ability can covert that figure to a fraction. One in three primary schools, led by principals, refused parents the information on the transfer tests. How can Bloomfield suggest with any expectation of credibility, that parents trust primary school principals to ” assist you in the application process”. Sir Kenneth Bloomfield clearly wants to attract attention to himself and his incoherent agenda. His signature on the letter to parents on behalf of AQE juxtaposes sharply with all the work diligently carried out by William Young, former headmaster at BRA, the CEO at AQE Ltd. Unfortuantely it seems that Bloomfield is determined to destroy AQE from within. How else can one explain the gross ineptitude found within his letter to parents. Specal circumstances, special provision and special cases are highlighted by Bloomfield as a basis for parents who feel that the mark obtained after three tests does not reflect their child’s “true ability” to challenge the result.
Bloomfield suggests that parents might wish to obtain comparative educational evidence from the primary school (including the third of schools who provided no information on the AQE CEA tests). Did he stop to consider that this is instantly recognised as another effort on his part to push for the Pupil Profile. After all, if equivalent information on attainment exists in the primary school what is the point of testing for grammar schools? That question will confuse and confound the 21% of parents from the middle classes who entered their children for entrance tests while claiming they are also against academic selection.
“AQE believes strongly that Northern Ireland is blessed with excellent schools, Primary, Grammar and secondary, and is confident that, in whatever school your son or daughter is enrolled in September 2011, he or she will have an educational experience of high quality.”
Perhaps he was regressing and thought he was writing a letter in his former role as head of the N.I. Civil Service seeking to deliver everyone in an equality of result outcome.