Education Minister Peter Weir.
Principals of non-grammar schools in Derry have criticised comments made by the Education Minister following the decision to scrap the transfer test this year.
It was announced last night that the AQE transfer test for primary seven pupils in Northern Ireland, which had been scheduled to take place on February 27, has been cancelled.
AQE have also said that no test will take place this school year.
The single test was scheduled after the three tests due to take place in January were cancelled.
Post-primary transfer tests are used to select pupils by the majority of NI grammar schools.
A number of grammar schools had already said they would not use the test to select pupils this year.
Grammar schools who were planning to use the AQE test will now have to find alternative arrangements to admit pupils in 2021.
After the announcement was made last night, Education Minister Peter Weir tweeted: “AQE have decided, due to COVID-19, that the transfer tests cannot proceed this year. This severely limits parental choice & children’s opportunities, with disappointment for many children & parents. I will continue to work with all stakeholders in these difficult circumstances.”
However, his comments were taken by some as criticism of non-grammar schools.
In response, Katrina Crilly, principal of Oakgrove College in Derry, wrote: “What a limited comment! This may be your perspective Minister narrow as it is, are you not the Education Minister for all our children and all our schools?”
Deirdre O'Kane, principal of St Patrick's and St Brigid's in Claudy, wrote: “Mr Weir. As principal of an exceptional non selective school, I an saddened by such a disgraceful, insensitive remark. Having attended a non- selective school myself, I was not, 'limited'.”
Martine Mulhern, principal of St Cecilia's College in Derry, wrote: “This year we were named ‘UK Secondary School of the Year’ but here in N Ireland our education system will always deem us ‘second class’ because we are a secondary school and not grammar! Described by our own Education Minister as ‘limiting children’s opportunities’ - HOW DARE HE!”
Mr Weir later tried to clarify his comments by tweeting: “Great opportunities exist throughout our education system, thru both selective and non selective schools, all of which have produced the best of Northern Ireland. Once opportunity to be considered for entry to any school is denied,in any sector, it is a denial to opportunity 4 all.”
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