Anxious weekend as entrance test results revealed

HUNDREDS of children within the Ballymoney and Moyle area had an anxious weekend waiting for their transfer test results.

Wednesday, 10th February 2010, 11:47 am

And, according to Mr. Tom Skelton, principal of Dalriada, most of the 225 pupils who sat the new school exam did 'very well'.

Dalriada School is one of over 30 grammar schools who decided to offer a common entrance assessment for those pupils who wish to take it to measure their suitability for an academic education.

The Dalriada School website explains: "Dalriada is oversubscribed and to allocate places the Board of Governors includes an academic criterion in the admissions criteria. To maintain its excellent academic status and in the absence of any credible alternative, Dalriada has decided to use a common entrance assessment, devised by the Association for Quality Education, as part of their criteria for entry.

"This assessment is designed to "match" the skills and abilities of individual pupils to the schools best suited to respond to their potential talents and interests.

"Mr. Tom Skelton , Headmaster of Dalriada, has met with the principals of feeder primary schools to explain in detail the main features of the tests. An information evening for parents also took place in June and attracted over 400 parents."

Speaking to the Times, Mr Skelton explained: "I am very pleased with the quality of results achieved by the children who sat the AQE tests in Dalriada.

"Compared to the 11+ grading system, a child whose results are in the top two quintiles would equate to an A grade or a top B1 grade. Children with results in the top two quintiles have a very strong chance of securing a place in a grammar school".

DUP Education spokesperson and Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee Mervyn Storey also believed that this year's transfer tests had been 'successful'.

He continued: "While I would still prefer a single regulated test under the responsiablity of the Department of Education, it is to be welcomed that despite all the threats from the Education Minister, this years transfer tests have been successful. I would congrulate all those children who were part of this process and have been successful in the result they have obtained.

"The Education Minister has yet again been proved to be wrong and despite all her attempts to threaten and intimidate, schools parents and all those involved in these tests have passed the mark. It is also clear that the tests are an improvement on what had been previously provided by CCEA.

"Improvements such as the access arrangements for dyslexia, language etc has been much appreciated by parents. Indeed it is encouraging to note that a survey carried out by AQE resulted in parents being very satisfied with the arrangements for the tests. A survey expressing satisfaction with any process carried out by the Department of Education would indeed be a very welcome development, unfortunately it is too often the case that parents and teachers remain wholly dissatisfied with the way in which this Minister and her Department conduct their business of implementing policy. It is time for the Minister to take lessons form this transfer process and the way it has been handled.

"I would also note as an improvement from the old transfer test the scoring system, used by AQE. The new system has left behind questions of passing or failing, there are no grades with the hidden information of the 11plus, the chance of a child getting a low percentage will not happen. Standard scores are used in Primary Schools, with scores parents will know exactly were they stand and the use of quintiles will help them to place the marks.

"The message from this years transfer tests is clear, it is time now for the Education Minister to face up to the reality and regulate a CCEA test. Improvements have been made on what has gone before but I believe that more improvements can be made such as reducing the number of tests. It is now time for the Minister to act and I am willing to meet the Minister this week to have discussions on this matter so that we can begin to make progress right away."