Education Minister Peter Weir said the impact of the pandemic has created great uncertainty for P7 pupils preparing to move to post-primary schools.
The deadline for schools to submit admissions criteria to the Education Authority is today.
Peter Weir said: “I wanted to speak directly to parents and let them know I realise that the process of transfer from primary to post-primary education can be a stressful time for children and families.
“For this year’s Primary 7 children and their families, however, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has not only separated them from their school friends and turned their usual lives upside-down, but has led to much greater uncertainty in relation to how they will move to their next school.
“In recent days I have received letters and e-mails from parents and children who have been directly affected by recent events. I share the disappointment expressed by many about the cancellation of entrance tests.
“A key theme in the correspondence has been the desire for admissions criteria for Transfer 2021 to be fair. I also want to make sure that in the absence of tests, schools devise admissions criteria that are robust, fair and do not unlawfully discriminate.
“That is why I have written twice to post-primary schools in recent weeks and months. I have reminded schools of the guidance my Department publishes in respect of admissions criteria and of the importance of ensuring their criteria are robust and can clearly and objectively select applicants. This guidance is available on my Department’s website.
“I appreciate that children and parents want clarity on the approach schools will take. Today is the deadline for schools to submit their admissions criteria to the Education Authority who will now prepare the criteria for publication to go live on their website on 2 February.
“The publication of admissions criteria will allow children and parents to understand exactly how their preferred schools will select children for admission. Once they are published I would encourage parents to read schools’ criteria carefully before nominating their preferences.”