Agreement between the two bodies who organise the transfer test to create a common exam for entry to grammar schools has been welcomed as “excellent news” by the former education minister Peter Weir.
The DUP MLA said: “I welcome the excellent news that a plan has been agreed between AQE and PPTC to create a common transfer test for entry to post primary grammars.
“While this plan will still need to go out to consultation, and will take time to implement, this is a major step forward and I commend both organisations on reaching a pupil focused sensible compromise which preserves the integrity of the transfer process itself.”
He continued: “Until now most pupils entered one test or the other effectively reducing choice, and for those who entered both, around 2000 pupils each year were faced with the stress of five separate exams over five separate Saturdays.
“The end is now in sight for those facing five tests, with most students only facing two one hour tests, with the protection of those who were unwell of a third test to ensure they were not disadvantaged.”
The former minister continued: “While others has sought to try to impose ideological abolition of transfer tests, or unrealistically bridge the chasm between pro and anti selection positions, we have consistently supported the right of schools to select on the basis of academic ability, and recognised the reality that some form of selection is here to stay.
“We have taken a much more pragmatic approach. We have always sought to make the transfer process easier and fairer for pupils, parents and schools.”
Mr Weir added: “That was why the ill judged bar on primary schools preparing their pupils for the transfer test, and why I initiated, encouraged and facilitated discussion between the two educational organisations.
“It was never up to any politician to impose any solution, but it was clear to me at the start of those discussions that both organisation comprised dedicated professionals who cared deeply about the students and families involved and were determined to find the right solution.
“Today is the culmination of those efforts, and while there is a long road to go, this is a tremendous step forward not just for local education, but more importantly for pupils, parents and schools.”