Grammar schools set to run single transfer test from November 2023

Grammar schools set to run single transfer test from November 2023

9/22/2021 2:19:00 PM

Grammar schools set to run single transfer test from November 2023

The plans would see the single test introduced for grammar schools from November 2023.

Grammar schools in Northern Ireland are set to run a single common transfer test from November 2023.A confidential document obtained by BBC News NI outlines plans for a common test with two papers to be held that month.If agreed, the plans would bring to an end the current system of separate tests run by AQE and PPTC.

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The BBC understands the majority of grammars have already agreed to the plans, but a minority remain opposed.A new company - the Schools' Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG) - is being set up to run the transfer test.The proposals have been drawn up by a group of 15 current and former grammar principals, referred to as "the implementation and the negotiating teams."

Grammar-school boards of governors have been asked to decide whether to sign up to the plan by 15:00 on 29 September.None of the group of principals behind the common test proposals agreed to be interviewed by BBC News NI.However, one source claimed that "the reality of a single test is closer than ever." headtopics.com

The confidential document, called "Towards a Single Assessment" was circulated to schools who normally use transfer tests in early September."Members of the negotiating team and implementation team, made up of principals and members of PPTC and principals of AQE schools, have been working over the last few years to agree a framework to see the introduction of one system of assessment," the document begins.

"We believe, with the actions outlined in this paper, the first testing using a single assessment model can be in November 2023."It goes on to say that the new company to run the test - the Schools' Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG) - will be formed in October 2021 so schools have to agree to be members of it by 29 September.

The paper then goes on to give more details about the SEAG, the format and cost of the new tests.The SEAG will be run by nine grammar school principals, all of whom will be nominated by grammars signed up to the new tests.They will manage the administration of the new test and the finances of the organisation.

The document said that "a test provider has been identified" to provide a common test.However, the company providing the test is not named.image source,image captionOne source claimed that "the reality of a single test is closer than ever" headtopics.com

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"The format of the test has been agreed between the test provider and the implementation group within the parameters set out at the commencement of the process," the document said.Further details about the common transfer test are then given.

"The assessment will consist of two tests," the document said."Each test will comprise English and mathematics items.""The tests will be on separate dates - probably two weeks apart.""There will be a mixture of multiple choice and free response (supply) items."

Irish-language versions of the transfer test will also be provided."Financing the new company will come from two sources," the document continued."An administration payment by parents of £20 per pupil - except for pupils who can claim a Free School Meal entitlement for whom the cost will be £0."

Then "a contribution made by each member school.""It is envisaged that the amount of each school's contributions will depend, for example, on the size of the school - similar to the model currently operated by PPTC and with projected similar contribution levels." headtopics.com

"Working on a basis of say 14,000 pupils, with say 15% exempt from payment, administration payments would generate around £240,000 of the total required to run the company.""The ultimate goal is that every pupil can sit one set of tests whose outcomes will be recognised and accepted across all schools in Northern Ireland whose boards of governors wish to use such an assessment."

In 2019-2020, the most recent school year that transfer tests took place there were 16,257 entrants in total for the separate AQE and Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) tests.The tests were cancelled in 2020/21 due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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It costs £60 for parents to enter their children for the AQE test in 2021/22 - unless they are entitled to free school meals in which case they do not have to pay a fee.There is no fee for children to enter the current PPTC test. Read more: BBC News (UK) »

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