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
11-plus, 11-plus and admission procedure, academic selection at 11, AQE, AQE test results, Education Minister, GL Assessment, GL Assessment test results, Grammar Schools, Parental Alliance for Choice in Education, quintiles, scores, selection at 11, Standardised Age Scores, unregulated 11-plus tests
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