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NI Grammar School Admission criteria for
September 2022
These details will be updated in January 2024.

Admission criteria for grammar schools in Northern Ireland for entrance in September 2022 have changed.

In the autumn term of 2021-2022 school year the Transfer Test - either the AQE or GL (PPTC) version has was used as part of the admissions policy for entry into year 8 by many schools. However some schools decided not to use either the AQE or GL (PPTC) Transfer Test and so those schools have developed new admission criteria for entry into Year 8 in September 2022.

These Grammar School admission criteria can vary greatly from school to school and you should make yourself aware of all the criteria details as they will determine which children will be admitted to this school in September 2022.
Make sure that you provide the school with all the information that they require as the school will use the information that you provide when making their decision about which children are admitted in September 2022.

Victoria College Belfast



Cranmore Park



Telephone No: 028 9066 1506

Fax No: 028 9066 6898



Principal: Mrs K Quinn BSC PGCE PQH

Chair of Board of Governors: Mrs W Blundell OBE

Voluntary Grammar School

Non-Denominational Girls’ Grammar

With Boarding, Preparatory and Pre-School

Age Range: 3-18

Admission No: 130

Enrolment No: 870


A virtual Open Day will be available online in February and can be accessed via the website of the College.

Entrance Test Results

Victoria College will consider the outcome of a pupil’s performance in either the AQE assessment or the GL Assessment. On the Transfer Form parents should provide details of the candidate number issued to their daughter by AQE and/or GLA when she registered for the assessment.

Parents should attach the original AQE results form or a copy of the GL Assessment results form (or both where an applicant has sat both assessments) to the Transfer Form.

Special Circumstances and/or Special Provision

It is the responsibility of Parents/Guardians making a claim for your child to be considered under Special Circumstances or Special Provisions to please ensure that you:

• read carefully the guidance outlined in the following sections of the Admissions criteria;

• present all such documentation that will assist the Board of Governors in determining if Special Circumstances and/or Special Provisions apply;

• upload all such documentation with the Transfer Application.

CAPITAL FEE: £140 per annum


The Board of Governors has determined the Admissions Criteria to be used and has delegated to the Admissions Sub-Committee, of which the Principal is a member, the functions and responsibilities in the application of the Admissions Criteria set out herein. The criteria are reviewed annually in light of any guidance issued by the Department of Education.



1. Definitions

Applicant means the parent or guardian who completes and submits the Transfer Application on behalf of the Candidate.

Parent means a person who at the date of application has legal responsibility for the Candidate.

Candidate means the child identified on the Transfer Application as seeking to gain admission to the College.

Child of the Family means

• A child born to a married couple or to a couple in a civil partnership;

• A child born to a co-habiting couple;

• A child born to a single parent;

• A child of either/any of those people by a previous marriage, civil partnership or relationship;

• A child living with a couple who has been treated as a “child of the family” whether there is a marriage or a civil partnership or not;

• A child living with an individual, who has been treated as a “child of the family”;

• An adopted or fostered child;

• A situation where for example an orphaned cousin is being brought up with a family or individual;

The child should be a child of the family as at the date of application.

Eldest Child of the Family will be interpreted in accordance with the provisions set out in paragraphs 3 to 5 of Annex 2 of DE Circular 2016/15 (Revised 16 November 2021), The Procedure for Transfer from Primary to Post-Primary Education. Eldest Child of the Family will include the eldest or only girl in a family and eldest sibling twins (or other multiples) will be regarded as joint eldest. The Eldest Child of the Family will also apply in circumstances where a family has not had the opportunity to enrol an elder daughter in the College, such as in cases where the elder daughter has already completed their post-primary education, the elder daughter could not attend mainstream school (for example, they attend a special school), or where a family has relocated to Northern Ireland and the elder daughter attended post-primary school outside of Northern Ireland.

Entitled to Free School Meals means a Candidate who, at the date on which they submit their post-primary Transfer Application, or at any time up to 4.00 pm on Wednesday 9 March 2022, has communicated within their application that they are listed on the Education Authority register as being entitled to Free School Meals.

2. Admissions Criteria

The number of places available in Year 8 is limited to the admissions number set by the Department of Education and is currently 130 places. The cut-off for admission will therefore be the 130th place.

Candidates resident in Northern Ireland at the time of their proposed admission will be selected for admission to the College before any Candidate not so resident.

The Candidate’s Birth Certificate and proof of address should be uploaded with the Transfer Application. Proof of address – any TWO of the following recent (within the past 6 months) documents with sensitive information redacted: Bank/building society statement; Utility bill (e.g. electricity, gas, TV licence, landline telephone; Addressed payslip; Letter awarding Child Benefit to the Candidate or another letter relating to this benefit; Mortgage statement; Land and Property Services Rates Demand; Financial statement such as ISA, Pension or Endowment; Current Driving licence; Rental agreement.

The College will apply the following admissions criteria in the order set out below:

2.1 Candidates who are entitled to Free School Meals (FSME): Priority to be given so that the proportion of such children admitted is not less than the proportion of first preference FSME applications received within the total number of first preference applications received. The calculation of this proportion will be on the basis of first preference applications received by the Secondary Department on or before Wednesday 9 March 2022, no later than 4.00 pm.

A detailed example of the application of this criterion can be found in Annex 3 of DE Circular 2016/15 (Revised 16 November 2021).

Candidates will be allocated to a Band in the order stated below: all Candidates allocated to Band I will be admitted before those allocated to Band II, Band II before Band III and so forth.

2.2 Academic Selection: There is no requirement that a Candidate should sit both the AQE and GL entrance assessments. However, in the case of a Candidate who sits both assessments, the College will use whichever outcome places the candidate in the higher Band.

AQE will provide Applicants with an age adjusted Standardised Score for each candidate who has taken that assessment in Northern Ireland in 2021. The College will use this Standardised Score as set out in the Table below, and allocate candidates to a Band accordingly.

AQE Standardised Score

Band I

106 or above

Band II

103 – 105

Band III

99 – 102

Band IV

94 – 98

Band V

88 – 93

Band VI

87 or below

GL Assessment will provide the results of the entrance assessment to parents as a Standardised Age Score, a Grade and a Cohort Percentile. The College will use the Cohort Percentile to allocate candidates to the appropriate Band as set out below. For the avoidance of any doubt Applicants should note that where the Cohort Percentile is recorded as less than 30 on the GL Assessment results form, the Candidate will be allocated to either Band V or Band VI on the basis of their Cohort Percentile.

GL Assessment Cohort Percentile

Band I

60 or above

Band II

50 - 59

Band III

40 - 49

Band IV

30 - 39

Band V

20 - 29

Band VI

19 or below

2.3 Non-Academic Criteria: In the event of there being more Candidates than places available within any of the bands set out in 2.2 above or if the College is oversubscribed following the application of the above criteria, the criteria outlined below will be applied in the order stated:

i. Candidates who, at the date of application, are enrolled in the Preparatory Department of the College;

ii. Candidates who, at the date of application, have a Child of the Family currently enrolled in the Secondary Department of the College;

iii. Candidates who, at the date of application, are the Eldest Child of the Family eligible for admission to the College in September 2022;

iv. Candidates who, at the date of application, have another Child of the Family accepted for the Secondary Department of the College for the forthcoming academic year;

Admissions criteria for entry September 2022

Updated January 2022

v. Candidates who, at the date of application, have another Child of the Family attending any other single sex post-primary school;

vi. Candidates who, at the date of application, attend a primary school that is a recognised feeder school for the College. A recognised feeder primary school is one from which pupils have transferred to the College over the preceding three-year period. Feeder primary schools will be ranked according to the average number of pupils who have transferred to the College over the preceding three-year period and those with higher numbers will have precedence.*

Following the application of all of the above criteria, should more than one candidate tie for the remaining place(s), the following tie breaker will be used. For the avoidance of doubt, this is to be used as an ultimate criterion after application of the above criteria and not in the event of oversubscription in any one main criterion.

Tie-Breaker: Candidates will be ranked for acceptance on the basis of a computer-based process which will make use of the data as entered on the Transfer Application. The process is carried out by means of a computer program which, for each child, generates a ranking number using the details from the Transfer Application as the seed for a random number generator. The ranking number generated, for any given child, is dependent only on the candidate’s data (as entered on the Transfer Application) and is not affected by the details of any other child. Although the process is repeatable, and the results may therefore be subsequently verified, it is not possible to predict, in advance of running the program, what the result will be for any given set of details. Children with the lowest ranking numbers will be given places up to the number of places available.

* The schools listed below are the primary schools (excluding the Preparatory Department of Victoria College Belfast) which sent most pupils to the College in the previous three years, ranked in accordance with the actual number of pupils sent. Parents should note that, in addition to those schools listed below, the College admitted pupils from a further 49 primary schools in 2021. A pupil from the primary school named at 2.3(vi).1 below will be admitted before a pupil from the primary school named at 2.3(vi).2 and so on.


St Bride’s Primary School


Carryduff Primary School


Stranmillis Primary School


Fullerton House Preparatory


Cairnshill Primary School


Holy Child Primary School


Downshire Primary School, Hillsborough


Oakwood Integrated Primary School


St Anne’s Primary School


St Joseph’s Primary School, Holland Drive


Harmony Hill Primary School


St Joseph’s Primary School, Lisburn


Pond Park Primary School


St Kevin’s Primary School


Finaghy Primary School


St Michael’s Primary School


Friends’ School Preparatory School


Dunmurry Primary School


Fane Street Primary School


Forth River Primary School


Millennium Integrated School


Ligoniel Primary School


Cavehill Primary School


Loughview Integrated School


Christ the Redeemer Primary School


Moneyrea Primary School


Academy Primary School


Rosetta Primary School


Moira Primary School


St Colman’s Primary School, Lambeg


Springfield Primary School


St Ita’s Primary School

If, following the application of the Admission Criteria set out above, all of the available places are not filled, the College will consider applications by girls who were not registered to sit the entrance assessments provided by AQE or GLA anywhere in Northern Ireland. Allocation of the remaining places will be made by applying the sub-criteria listed at 2.3(i) to (vi) above.

3. Duty to Verify

The College will seek verification of sub-criterion 2.3(iii) above (Eldest Child of the Family) by means of a verification letter. The verification letter must state that the Candidate is the Eldest Child of the Family eligible to attend the College and it must be written on headed notepaper and signed by a primary school principal, a medical practitioner, a solicitor, a member of the clergy, a police officer or an elected representative. The verifier must not be a member of the family of the Candidate and they must have known the Candidate for at least two years.

The College will seek verification of sub-criterion 2.3(v) above (single sex post-primary school) by means of a verification letter. The verification letter must state that the Child of the Family attends any other single sex post-primary school and it must be written on headed notepaper and signed by a school principal, a medical practitioner, a solicitor, a member of the clergy, a police officer or an elected representative. The verifier must not be a member of the family of the Candidate and they must have known the Candidate for at least two years.

Furthermore, the Board of Governors reserves the right to require such supplementary evidence as it may deem necessary at its absolute discretion to support or verify any information provided on any Transfer Application.

If the requested evidence is not provided to the College by the deadline stated, this will result in the withdrawal of an offer of a place. Equally, if information is supplied that appears to be false or misleading in any material way, the offer of a place will also be withdrawn.

4. Special Provision

As an exception to the requirements of Paragraph 2.2 an applicant may request Special Provision, where the applicant

A: has received more than half their education outside Northern Ireland;* or

B: had entered for assessment but was unable to be assessed due to unforeseen and serious medical or other problems which are supported by appropriate evidence;* or

C: wishes to transfer to a grammar school from a school outside Northern Ireland.**

*Applicants who wish to be considered for Special Provision for either of the first two reasons outlined above should complete the necessary AQE (SC22) or GL (SP20) form stating the precise reason why they believe the applicant is eligible for consideration under Special Provision. This should be forwarded to the College with appropriate evidence as outlined in paragraph 6. Parents should ensure that the appropriate evidence is attached to the Transfer Form. Such applications should be received by 12 noon on Wednesday 9 March 2022.

** Applicants wishing to transfer from a school outside Northern Ireland should be aware that the Education Authority may not process forms after 9 March 2022. Such applicants should therefore endeavour to provide the College with all necessary information relating to Special Provision by 4.00 pm on 9 March 2022.

The College will assess the Candidate’s academic ability by using accredited assessments including information supplied by the Applicant (see paragraph 6). The College may also request that an assessment of the Candidate’s academic capacity, carried out by a suitably qualified person or body, be provided. Thereafter the Candidate will be allocated to the appropriate Band and the criteria in paragraph 2.3 applied.

NB Late Applicants

Those wishing to transfer from a school outside Northern Ireland who apply for a place after 31 May 2022 will be treated on the same basis as those who applied before that date, subject to the agreement of the Department of Education to an increase in the Admissions Number for this purpose.

5. Special Circumstances

Claims for Special Circumstances will be considered by the College where medical or other problems may have affected performance in the Transfer Tests. For this purpose, Special Circumstances are those circumstances which have arisen, or have been significantly exacerbated, at the time of taking the Transfer Tests or in the period immediately prior to the Transfer Tests.

A Sub-Committee of the Board of Governors will consider applications for Special Circumstances. Decision-making powers have been delegated to this sub-committee who will make a judgement on all material provided by the Applicant. The Band allocated to the Candidate will be based on the decision reached by this sub-committee.

Consideration of a claim for Special Circumstances consists of two stages.

The first stage is determining whether sufficient independent evidence has been provided to allow a pupil to be considered as having undertaken the Transfer Tests under Special Circumstances. If not, the claim for Special Circumstances fails.

If the Applicant succeeds at the first stage, they move to the second stage, which is an educational judgement on the evidence provided as to whether the score/Band should be adjusted to reflect that which the Applicant would have obtained had the Special Circumstances not existed.

Granting Special Circumstances does not therefore mean that the score/Band will be upgraded automatically.

It is important that the Applicant presents sufficient independent evidence to enable the sub-committee to make a judgement in respect of both parts of this process.

It is the responsibility of the Applicant to set out on the appropriate form, precise details of the problem, append the relevant independent evidence of its nature and its impact on the Applicant’s performance in the Transfer Tests and to attach the appropriate forms and accompanying evidence to the Transfer Form.

• Where the problem is a medical one, the College will require evidence of consultation with a medical practitioner dated November or December 2021.

• Where the problem is of a non-medical nature the College will require similar non-medical evidence.

• Where the problem, either medical or non-medical, is of a longstanding nature the College will require evidence of the extent to which the problem was exacerbated during the Transfer Test period

• Those providing such evidence must be independent and not related to the Candidate on whose behalf the application is being made.

• The College also requires evidence of the Candidate’s academic capacity (see Paragraph 6).

If a Special Circumstances application is made in respect of matters for which Access Arrangements were granted, the College will take into account the fact that Access Arrangements were granted.

If a Special Circumstances application is made in respect of tests taken, the College will take into account the number of tests required to be taken and the parameters within which these are scored in reaching a decision on applicability of Special Circumstances.

6. Evidence of the Candidate’s academic capacity

Evidence of the Candidate’s academic capacity may be demonstrated by the provision of information, where available, such as:

• the results of any available standardised tests in English and Mathematics conducted in P5, P6 and P7;

• copies of school reports for P5, P6 and P7;

• the raw score provided by AQE, if the Candidate, only sits one of the AQE CEAs, due to illness, self isolation or other unforeseen circumstances

• records of strengths or weaknesses in the Candidate’s performance either generally or in specific subject areas in comparison with other pupils in the class group;

• an educational psychologist’s report.

7. Waiting List Policy 

If a vacancy arises after places have been finalised, then all unsuccessful Candidates for admission to Year 8, all new applications, all late applications, and all applications where new information has been provided, will be treated equally and the published criteria applied. This waiting list will remain in place until 30 June of the year following application. 

The name of the Candidate will be automatically added to the list and the College will contact Applicants in writing if a place becomes available in the College by this method. Applicants should contact the College if they wish the name of their child to be removed from the list.

Applications and Admissions

Year    2019/20

Admissions No    130

Total Applications ie. All preferences    259

Total Admissions    137*

Year    2020/21

Admissions No    130

Total Applications ie. All preferences    212

Total Admissions    130

Year    2021/22

Admissions No    130

Total Applications ie. All preferences    259

Total Admissions    132#

 * The College was granted a temporary variation of 7 additional places. 

# The College was granted a temporary variation of 2 additional places.

** This information is provided for guidance only and while the content is, to the best of our knowledge, accurate we cannot be held in any way responsible for any errors or omissions that it may contain. Please contact your LA or chosen grammar school for all admission and Transfer Test queries.**

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