Ulster Unionist Party education spokesman Danny Kinahan MLA has reacted to news that named primary schools have been sent warning letters from the Department of Education about coaching pupils for the transfer test.
Mr Kinahan said:
”I completely abhor the actions of the Department of Education in naming, through the media, primary schools which they have sent warning letter to over allegedly ‘coaching’ Year 6 and 7 pupils in preparing for the transfer test.
“It is totally unfair to single out schools is such a manner. The Principals of all primary schools have been placed in this invidious situation because the AQE and GL tests have become increasingly popular with parents. The simple fact is that as unofficial tests have become imbedded, a large proportion of parents want their children to sit them and have an opportunity of gaining a place at a grammar school. That is parental choice- something which Minister O’Dowd makes great play of when it suits him; for example when justifying a new Irish Language secondary school with officially unsustainable enrolment levels.
“I would like to know on what basis these primary schools have been singled out and named. The Minister and his predecessors caused this situation by abolishing the old 11+ without having a system for transferring children to post primary schools to replace it.
“The Ulster Unionist Party position remains that we need a two year period to introduce a new assessment process, replacing the 11+ on a fair and equitable basis. Principals, teachers, parents and children should not be the victims of this continuing political deadlock.”