27/11/2008

Derry Grammar School Outlines Entrance Test Plans

A Londonderry grammar school has cemented its position within the ongoing debate on the future of academic selection by revealing details of the entrance test it will use to select future pupils. Foyle and Londonderry College said it would implement the exams, as part of its selection criteria, should cross-party discussions at Stormont fail to provide a firm way forward.

Last night, over 100 parents were given an insight into the proposed English and Maths test.

College Principal Jack Magill, whose school is a member of the 30-strong Association for Quality Education, said he has no choice but to continue with some form of academic selection.

"We've reached the stage of a kind of car-crash policy where we'll run the system into the ground," he told the BBC today.
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"There's no agreed way forward from where we stand at the moment, and the Minister's minority view about the future of the 11-plus is something that really needs to be revised, and revised quickly," he added.

Parents at the meeting said they understood the difficult situation secondary schools were facing.

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane has given approval for a number of grammar schools to run their own exams, however, this will eventually be phased out.

Mr Ruane said she has instructed officials to work on guidance, which she will issue on the future of post primary education in the absence of agreement at the Northern Ireland Assembly.

"We are at the point where we have to take a decision if we cannot find an agreed way forward," said the Minister.

"I want to find an agreed way forward and I want the DUP to work with me so we can bring in a legislative framework.

"If that doesn't happen then very, very soon I will issue guidance and I have instructed my officials to work on that guidance," she said.

(PR/KMcA)

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