Sandra Overend MLA, Ulster Unionist education spokesperson has said that new transfer guidance for schools reflect reality, but that the new Minister is failing to retake Departmental responsibility for transfer tests.
Mrs Overend said:
“The new transfer guidance issued by the Department of Education, recognises the reality of the two Grammar school entrance tests and the fact that primary schools have been under parental pressure to prepare Year 6 and Year 7 children for these unofficial tests. In this sense the circular states the obvious and ends the ridiculous situation where some primary schools were being sent annual warning letters from the Department about preparing for the tests.
“However, fundamentally, the issue of post primary transfer remains unsatisfactory and unresolved. It remains a reality that the state, in the form of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Department for Education has abdicated its responsibility for a major part of education policy. Sinn Fein, by abolishing and not replacing the 11+ exam, effectively privatised the transfer test. The DUP are continuing to franchise out school transfer tests, with no indication that there is any plan to reinstate a single, official test, or even to consider alternative transfer arrangements.
“It is clear that no one in authority, not least the Minister, is prepared to give serious thought to the wider issue of how and when we transfer children from primary to secondary education. This is far from being a satisfactory state of affairs for our children, and their parents and guardians.”