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.