Dept of Education advice to P7 pupils

The BBC reports that the NI Department of Education has produced a leaflet for P7 pupils and their parents.

It advises that pupils can apply to grammar schools without doing an entrance test, but it points out that in such cases, they are unlikely to get in.

Adds Departmental guide for parents available here.From the leaflet [pdf file]

There is no Transfer Test this year. Some schools, however, are choosing to operate independent Entrance Tests.

?? An Entrance Test is a test like the 11+ Test.
?? Children in their last year of primary school can, if they wish, sit Entrance Tests.
?? Post-primary schools using academic admissions criteria will use the results of these tests to determine which children to admit.

The Department of Education wishes to end academic selection. It does not support the use of Entrance Tests.

However, the Department understands that some parents will want information about Entrance Tests. The Department does not hold this information. Information on Entrance Tests is held by the schools that are using them. It is the responsibility of parents to obtain this information from these schools. In doing this, parents may fi nd the advice below helpful.

1. Does my child have to sit an Entrance Test?

No. This is a matter of choice.

?? The majority of post-primary schools (the non-grammar schools generally) will not be using Entrance Tests. So, if you are interested in your child transferring to one of these schools there will be no Entrance Test.
?? If you are interested in your child transferring to a school that will use an Entrance Test then you can choose to apply to one of these schools without your child sitting their test. You should be aware, however, that your application is unlikely to be successful.

2. Which schools will be using Entrance Tests?

If you are interested in your child transferring to:

?? A grammar school; and/or
?? One of the four schools with a recognised grammar stream – St Patrick’s College, Maghera, Holy Cross College, Strabane, Lagan College, Belfast, Slemish College, Ballymena.

then you should contact these schools NOW to see if the school will be using Entrance Tests. These schools will have closing dates for applications to sit their Entrance Tests. These closing dates may be approaching.

?? The Department is not aware of any non-grammar post-primary schools that are planning to use Entrance Tests.

, , ,

  • pace parent

    So Caitriona Ruane and her DENI henchmen are wasting taxpayers money on commentary on the deregulated system. They are only reinforcing the removal of parental choice and the realisation by parents and the general public that her campaign will only end in increasing demand for grammar school places based on merit rather than social status. Perhaps she can explain in detail the waste of money on her initial promise to introduce a regulated CCEA test for 11-plus which she abandoned.
    Instead of just reporting the Minister’s propaganda campaign the BBC Education Correspondent should put the difficult questions to her on behalf of parents and children. The absence of critique suggests some deflection from the role of the BBC reporter and some influence from an ideological perspective.
    Bottom line Ruane and her supporters will not win this struggle for the hearts and minds of parents. Teachers and principals who volunteer to parrot their joint anti-selection, anti-choice rhetoric to parents are not victims – they are mainly hypocrites

  • jone

    Hi Stephen,

    Hope you have some hard evidence for your libel of Maggie Taggart.

    Best wishes.

  • wild turkey

    ‘Teachers and principals who volunteer to parrot their joint anti-selection, anti-choice rhetoric to parents are not victims – they are mainly hypocrites ‘

    …and i hope have some hard evidence for your libel of principals and teachers. the relevant deni guidance [link below] puts primary school principals & teachers between the proverbial rock and hard place.

    i suggest you appeal to the evidence rather than prejudice. or perhaps that is contrary to the ethos of ‘quality’ [ho ho]education

    have a great day

  • barnshee

    So now we have it, between entrance tests, feeder schools, proximity and “sure me father/mother/sister/brother went there” we have ensured the continued survival of the grammar school.

    While people are prepared to send their children from e.g. Banagher to Coleraine to avoid their local schools there seems little prospect of material change.

  • willis

    Hi Stephen

    Jeez you are never happy. The Minister has just hoisted the white flag.

    Including this priceless advice.

    5. If I register my child, does he/she have to receive Free School Meals?
    No. Your child can be registered without actually receiving a Free School Meal.

    Don’t blame Maggie. If she makes her stuff too exciting she might damage the fragile ecosystem which is our local media.

  • Salem

    Shame shame Catriona – so childrens whos parents can afford the tests and tutors can have the opition to go to Grammar Shcool! How is that Equality ??

  • willis

    Ideological purity = Political inffectiveness.

  • skullion

    Salem the tests are free.

  • pacman


    The AQE test costs £35 but the CCMS is free.

  • pace parent

    So Ruane makes a statement to the Assembly on February 2nd 2009 on Transfer 2010 proclaiming
    “The 11-plus is gone forever, and I welcome and celebrate that achievement. Regulations governing transfer procedures end this year. I have exhausted all the options for achieving agreed new regulations. We now need to make decisions about transfer 2010. I will not allow the DUP and UUP to block the process of necessary and well-managed change. I now intend to move forward. Parents, teachers and pupils need clarity and certainty.”
    Then in September 2009 when crunch time for the unregulated testing deadline approaches she once again offers her unique version of “clarity and certainty” for parents delivered indirectly via teachers.

    If this was Channel 4’s Big Brother she’d be out on her ear like the smug Lisa found out when the public actually had an opportunity to vote for her removal

  • skullion

    CCMS aren’t setting any exams in fact they have asked primary school teachers not to help children prepare for the transfer test.AQE and GL are the two assessment bodies with the overwhelming number of schools using GL which is free.

  • pace parent

    Ask CCMS who has paid GL Assessment for their “free” testing arrangements in Catholic schools (+ Slemish and Ballymena Academy)

  • skullion

    Go on then Pace you’re dying to tell us.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “No. Your child can be registered without actually receiving a Free School Meal”

    How to defraud the system then?

  • Pigeon Toes

    “1. Does my child have to sit an Entrance Test?

    No. This is a matter of choice.

    Erm, Um Wasn’t there a matter of parental choice regarding whether one’ child entered the 11+ Examination?”

    So glad that little problem has been cleared up.

  • pace parent


    Lost your tongue then? Ask Donal McKeown. The GL Assessment arrangement was only made after it became clear that Catholic parents wanted testing for grammar schools and the church hierarchy feared losing out to the “non-denominational” and controlled grammars. Their anti-selection diktat backfired. Free testing? Pull the other one.

  • joeCanuck

    What a great shared future we are having.


    Those not directly affected don’t see the worry and stress that this is causing pupils, parents, heads and teachers. The schools are taking all the stick and hassle because they are at the coal face of this and for the best part of 2/3 years haven’t had the answers for the parents and pupils. Now we have the crazy scenario of some kids getting private tuition for something there is no precedent for while others in their class can’t afford the private tuition. Shame of the Assembly and the Education Dept.

  • skullion

    Ok Pace does any parent of a child doing the GL test have to pay anything?

  • pace parent

    Skullion. You seem determinedly unwilling to address the more commercial question. Are GL Assessment providing their tests and marking to the schools for no fee,free, at no cost as a charitable act? They certainly charged when they provided the regulated 11-plus to CCEA.

    Now Skullion please tell us who the generous benefactor is that avoided “any parent of a child doing the GL test have to pay anything”

    If you have difficulty with the concept consider “free” pupil bus passes and then tell us how much DRD and DENI pay Translink so that the parents of some pupils do not have to pay anything.

  • skullion

    And Pace you seem unwilling to answer my very simple question which asks does any parent have to pay for the GL test.a simple yes or no will suffice.

  • feismother

    I’m a governor of a voluntary grammar which will use the GL assessment. There is no charge to parents and we are paying for it from school funds.

  • skullion

    Thank you feismother.

  • willis

    Sinn Fein are getting a serious lesson in political reality. The losers in this are the P1 – 7 children whose whole future will be decided by how much their parents earn.

    The Maintained sector in particular has been seriously let down by possibly the most inadequate Minister ever to serve at Stormont.

  • skullion

    Really lazy comments willis about how much parents earn.From my own kid’s class alone less than 5% of pupils are getting private tutoring.

  • pace parent

    @ feismother
    Let’s deal with the political reality. Since some of the governors of your school are appointed by the DENI the DENI in some part are paying for an unregulated test opposed by the DENI and the Minister for Education. Is your school opposed to the Minister’s position or not? You can’t have it both ways.
    So how much is your school paying GL Assessment directly for testing arrangements that parents are told are free and where exactly do the school funds come from?
    As a governor you are bound to know the answers. Why is it that all voluntary grammar schools do not provide one set of tests free? How come some controlled schools are offering AQE tests when their ELB masters are against academic selection? After all claims are being made to parents about the comparability of the tests. Is a free test somehow better than those tests which AQE are charging parents £35 for?

  • feismother

    All board representatives sit and make decisions in their own right. When I was first appointed to a BOG as a parents’ representative way back in 1993 the Chair of the board said to me, “Remember, you’re a parents’ representative, not a delegate, you are your own person”. And that’s how I see myself whether as a DENI representative or for the Trustees (I’ve held all such positions in maintained, controlled and voluntary sectors.)

    I can’t give you a figure for what it is going to cost because as yet I don’t know but you’ll be able to peruse accounts for all schools in due course. Our pupils will not suffer, we’ll find the money from other sources.

    We made the decision to go with GL assessment rather than the AQE one for a number of reasons including financial and educational ones.

  • Reader

    pace parent: Is your school opposed to the Minister’s position or not?
    I now have no idea what your point is/was. The current situation is that the 11+ was abolished by a minister *with* the power to do it, and that selection has not been abolished by a minister *without* the power to do it.
    Everything else follows. The Voluntary and controlled Grammar schools won’t give up selection because they don’t have to. The CCMS won’t give up 25% of their clients to the controlled and voluntary sector, so they will hang on to selection while the others do. The CCMS will make gestures towards social inclusion. There is nothing mysterious about what has happened.

  • feismother

    There have quite a few references to CCMS in this thread when perhaps what is meant is the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education. That’s the group headed by Donal McKeown. CCMS is not involved with the running of the Catholic voluntary grammar schools.

  • willis


    Um. I don’t think you got my point. I was being ironic. Next time I will flag it up better.

  • I am putting together a website for the parents of children doing these new transfer tests in the hope that it will make it easier to find resources to help their children pass these new exams.

    The website is , I’m adding information as I find it.