Northern Ireland

Integrated school to use transfer tests

Strangford Integrated College Image copyright Google MAPS
Image caption The all-ability post-primary school has been open since 1997

An integrated school in County Down wants to use academic selection tests to admit some of its pupils.

Strangford Integrated College currently admits 35% of Year 8 pupils to a "grammar stream".

They use evidence of academic ability for this, including primary reports and other tests, but not necessarily results from the transfer tests.

However, they now plan to admit 35% based solely on AQE or Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) tests.

The details are contained in a development proposal published by the Department of Education (DE).

Strangford Integrated College is an all-ability post-primary school in Carrowdore with almost 700 pupils.

It has been open since 1997 and has seen an increase in enrolments in recent years.

As a result, the college now wants to select 39 out of 110 year 8 pupils in 2019 using results from the AQE transfer test or the GL Assessment test run by the PPTC.

They have said that this will give pupils in north Down and Ards the chance to get a grammar education in an integrated school.

Objections

They also claim that there is parental demand for the plan, and that it will have a minimal impact on other grammar schools in the area or the two nearest integrated schools - Lagan College in Belfast and Priory College in Holywood.

Lagan College already selects 35% of its pupils using AQE and GL test results, as does Slemish College in Ballymena - another integrated school.

Now, Strangford Integrated College want to introduce a similar admissions system.

Yet there have been a number of objections to the plan - including from five post-primary schools in the area and the controlled schools support council (CSSC).

The Education Authority has also said it does not support the proposal.

However, the final decision on whether to allow Strangford College to proceed will be made by the Department of Education's permanent secretary Derek Baker in the continuing absence of a minister.

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