The single AQE transfer test planned for Saturday 27 February has now been cancelled.

In a statement the AQE board said: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty about the potential for an extended period of lockdown, the Board of AQE Limited has decided to recommend to our grammar schools, the membership of AQE, that there should be no assessment offered by AQE in this academic year. The test scheduled for Saturday 27 February will therefore not take place. The health and safety of the children due to sit the exams is our top priority.”

In response to the news The Minister of Education said: “I am disappointed that AQE will not be operating a test this year on the grounds of public health. This will also be very disappointing for many pupils and parents. Today’s decision by AQE makes it an impossibility for any such test to happen. It is clear that public health and the wider Covid-19 situation has prevented the transfer test taking place this year.
“Transfer tests have never been compulsory for any school nor any student, but what they have provided for many has been parental choice and opportunity for children to gain a place at a post primary school of their choosing. Today’s announcement diminishes that choice significantly.
“In view of the ongoing public health situation, I had recommended to Boards of Governors that they should prepare contingency criteria in the event the transfer tests did not go ahead. These criteria should be finalised soon by schools and will be published by the Education Authority on 2 February. However, in light of the changes today, we are extending the date for schools to submit final admissions criteria to the Education Authority, until 22 January. My officials will issue further correspondence to schools.”

Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: “Children, parents and schools have worked hard to prepare for this test and I understand that many will be disappointed it has now been cancelled. This, albeit too late in the day and following rollercoaster decision making, is the right decision for our children.

“It is not in the best interests of children to sit this external test, especially considering the current infection rate, lost classroom time, differences in quality of remote learning and the impact of all of this on their mental health.

“No one can predict what the situation will be like on 27 February and it would have been unfair to continue to leave children and parents with this uncertainty until that time. It is unfortunate that we are in this situation, I called for discussions on alternative arrangements to begin last Spring like they did for GCSEs and A Levels.  It is disgraceful they did not.

“It is my expectation the relevant authorities will now undertake work to make sure children and parents have confidence in the transfer from primary to post primary schools for all children.”

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

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