SDLP Education Spokesperson Daniel McCrossan has welcomed reports that grammar schools in the North will move to a single transfer test from November 2023.
Mr McCrossan said he hoped the move would be a step on the path to ending academic selection once and for all.
The Schools’ Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG) is to be set up to run the transfer test.
The West Tyrone MLA said:
“While it’s welcome that children will now only have to sit through one transfer test and the pressures and stress that goes with it, the SDLP’s position remains that academic selection must go. It serves neither our pupils, teachers or schools well and it’s long past time a level playing field was created for children in the North.
“Anything that improves the experience of our pupils is a positive, but it is deeply regrettable that transfer tests remain in use long after they have proved themselves archaic and unfit for purpose. The idea that we can rank our children in a way that has a significant impact on their lives at the age of 11 is appalling.
“This new single transfer test cannot simply be a return to the 11-plus. It needs to evaluate our young people in a way that appreciates their different talents and abilities, while finding them a place in the school that will do the best job of nurturing them to achieve their full potential.
“We need to see action to address the current imbalance around academic achievement in our schools. Of children attending grammar schools only a small percentage are entitled to free schools meals. There are also concerns around the impact failing a transfer test has on young people the effect this has on their future academic achievement. We need to give every child the best chance of a succesful future and celebrate their different skills and abiliites. It’s cruel that our children are forced to sit these tests and it has to change.”