A new campaign on change.org,  #bringitbacktoprimary, is calling on Education Minister Peter Weir to review the current AQE and GL process ahead of next year’s testing.

Despite the abolition of the Transfer Test in 2008 by the then Education Minister Caitríona Ruane, each year thousands of 10 and 11-year-olds in Northern Ireland still face academic selection. The unofficial process, devised by grammar schools, requires children in primary 7 to sit exams if they wish to pursue a grammar school education. However, unlike the former abolished Transfer Test, children are required to attend a participating grammar school to take the test.

The aim of #bringitbacktoprimary is to do just that, allow children to once again sit the exam in the primary school they attend – a setting they are familiar with and much more comfortable in.

Mum-of-two and campaign organiser Naomi McBurney said: “I have two primary school aged children who will eventually be facing academic selection in P7. When I considered how I felt taking the exam during the former Transfer Test system and talking with children and families going through the new system I knew I had to act.

“This is an extremely stressful time for children and their families, and I believe, along with many others, we have a duty to reduce that stress as much as possible. By enabling children to sit the exam in the familiar surroundings of the primary school they currently attend, we can help reduce the pressure they are feeling. We can create an environment that is better suited to the emotional needs of 10 and 11-year-old children.”

Currently those children opting for the selection process face three exams if taking the AQE’s Common Entrance Assessment (CEA)and two exams if sitting the PPTC’s GL Assessment. If they want to widen their post primary options, they must apply to both processes therefore sitting a total of five exams in the November of their primary 7 year. This also requires attending two different testing centres.

With over 3,700 signatures already supporting the petition for change, it is evident this is an issue facing many children and families across Northern Ireland and there is a demand for a better way.

Naomi continues: “As grammar schools continue to enforce academic selection, the campaign calls for the Education Minister, Peter Weir to step in, put children first and #bringitbacktoprimary schools!”

To sign the petition and find out more visit http://chng.it/bgLpBVfQK5

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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