Students sit unofficial transfer tests

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THOUSANDS of P7 pupils in Northern Ireland sat the first of the year’s transfer tests on Saturday.

While the official 11-plus exam was abolished in 2008, new unofficial exams have since been introduced and are still used to determine entry into many grammar schools.

Non-demoninational grammar schools use mostly the AQE tests while catholic schools sit the GL exams.

Results from the test will be revealed in February 2012.

Meanwhile the parents of a special needs pupil due to sit the grammar school transfer test have ended their legal challenge to the level of special provisions being offered, it has been confirmed.

Proceedings were issued at the High Court in Belfast against the body which runs one of the unofficial entrance exams, claiming discrimination on the grounds of disability. It was the first case of its kind since the Association for Quality Education (AQE) began to oversee tests in place of the abolished 11-Plus.

The child who was at the centre of the challenge is among thousands of pupils due to begin this year’s assessments today.

They will sit three test papers at grammar schools across Northern Ireland.

The child, who cannot be identified, has been assessed by an educational psychologist as having “unique” circumstances, a judge was told. The exact nature of the disability involved was not disclosed.

According to the child’s lawyers an offer of an extra 15 minutes to complete the one-hour test is insufficient.

Additional access arrangements were also regarded as unsatisfactory. At an earlier court hearing it was alleged that there had been a failure, or refusal, to make reasonable adjustments.

Further arguments were due on Friday, with submissions on whether the AQE, as a private body, could be subject to judicial review proceedings which examine the lawfulness of decisions or actions by public bodies.

However, Stewart Beattie QC instead confirmed on behalf of the child’s family that the case was not continuing.

He told Mr Justice Treacy: “The position now is that the application for judicial review is withdrawn.”

No further reasons for ending the challenge were given in court.