The DUP has urged the Department of Education to reintroduce its own post-primary transfer test, after a group of European experts warned that children are “losing out” in the current system.
The review by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) concluded there is “a polarised political debate” over the testing of pupils for post-primary school selection here which is “impeding the effective implementation of pupil assessment”.
DUP education spokesman Mervyn Storey yesterday accepted the findings, saying the solution is for the department “to take over responsibility for testing rather than a third party private company being used”.
And he agreed with OECD that the Educational Standards Authority should be introduced here, but said other issues accompanying this in proposed legislation had gone “way beyond mere streamlining of administration”.
The Department of Education confirmed it paid OECD £86,000 to carry out the research.
Minister John O’Dowd said: “In many aspects it tells us what we already knew – that our post-primary system is not performing at the level our primary sector is; that our non-selective sector caters for high levels of students from less affluent backgrounds; and that more work is required if we are to properly embed the new assessment arrangements.”
UUP education spokesman Danny Kinahan said: “The final 11-plus took place in 2008, and this stemmed from the decision taken in 2002 by Martin McGuinness.
“In those six intervening years no preparatory work was undertaken and therefore the transfer system inevitably turned into organised chaos.”
What is even more unacceptable, he said, is that there is still no sign of a permanent resolution.