“in the absence of a regulated system of transfer..”

On Hearts and Minds last week the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Cáitríona Ruane, assured Noel Thompson that

“[The Catholic Church] told me, they were at pains to point out they would not be requesting a test… That they would [not] be requesting a test from the Department.”

Today the NI Commission for Catholic Education finally made public their proposals. So far we just have a report in the Belfast Telegraph and from the BBC.

The Commission for Catholic Education has given the go-ahead for Catholic grammar schools in Northern Ireland to set entrance exams. However, it has also restated its position that academic selection of any kind should end by 2012.

From the BBC report

The commission said that in the absence of a regulated system of transfer, academic test may be appropriate in the short-term, particularly for those post-primary schools which are oversubscribed. [] It stressed that Catholic schools which opt to use such tests must ensure they do not discriminate against any children, avoid children having to sit a multiplicity of tests and should be used for only a limited period of time.

And from the Belfast Telegraph.

The reluctant blessing from the bishops for academic selection to continue goes against strong warnings of legal perils from Caitriona Ruane and is the outcome of a working group established in a bid to agree on a joint way forward for the Catholic sector. The group included representatives from both grammar and secondary schools. The new policy on post-primary transfer for Catholic schools includes that all schools should stop using academic selection no later than 2012.

It calls on them to implement the Education Minister’s non-academic admissions guidelines as fully as possible – but goes on to say that the commission accepts that an academic test may be appropriate in the short-term in the absence of a regulated system and while local solutions are being developed.

The policy states that schools opting to make use of testing should ensure the tests do not discriminate against any groups of children, will avoid them having to sit a “multiplicity of tests”, will be used for only a limited time, will not distort the school curriculum and will focus on English and maths.

Which does appear to fall short of requesting a test from the Department. But the logical conclusion of seeking to avoid a “multiplicity of tests” would be?