Nationwide - Northern Ireland Entry exams prolong 11+ selection

13th February 2009 at 00:00

Plans to introduce academic selection at 14 are being undermined as more grammar schools announce they will introduce their own entrance exams.

The Northern Ireland Executive failed to agree on proposals from Catriona Ruane, the education minister, to phase out academic selection over three years. She has now advised schools to ensure children entitled to free meals gain admissions at the same rate as other applicants.

Teachers say that the executive's failure to agree has left them with no option other than to bring in their own admissions criteria.

Forty of Northern Ireland's 69 grammar schools had already pledged to hold their own exams before the announcement from Ms Ruane.

The Commission for Catholic Education, which represents Catholic Bishops and schools, has set up a working group to investigate alternative means of transfer to secondary education in the hope some unity in schools' procedures might emerge.

The final 11-plus exam was taken last November and pupils were due to receive their results this week. But rather than children seeing an end to academic selection at this age, they may now have to sit numerous entrance exams to win a place at the secondary school of their choice.

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