In the absence of political consensus, and “until the appropriate legislation is in place”, the Catholic Heads Association (CHA) had stated that they would prefer to use “the CCEA test which the minister has commissioned”. But with the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Cáitríona Ruane, apparently, still manning the trench, the CHA have announced that they will use tests set and marked by the National Foundation for Education Research. They have already been given the go-ahead by the NI Commission for Catholic Education and, according to the BBC report, “Pupils will sit the test in English and mathematics on Saturday 21 November at 28 schools across Northern Ireland.”
Catholic Heads Association chairman Dermot Mullan said it was not just Catholic schools which had signed up for the exam. “The schools involved are right across Northern Ireland – we are in discussion with a number of other schools as well,” he said. The tests will be set and marked by the England-based National Foundation for Education Research. Children will receive their results at the end of January. Parents will not have to pay a fee for the tests.