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Parent concern over New Single Transfer Test

Parents' Group concerned about lack of information about New Single Transfer Test.

Parent concern over New Single Transfer Test

Parents in Northern Ireland are still in the dark over the new single transfer test.

Parents feel that they are not being informed about the new single transfer test set to begin operating in November 2023.

A Parent Engagement Group (PEG) said that they have been unable to meet with Education Minister Michelle McIlveen, depite requests for a meeting.

Tension amongst parents was raised when Ms McIlveen suggested that no practice papers would be available ahead of the new test being introduced.

it is already known that the new test is to be run by the newly formed Schools’ Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG). It will be used by the majority of grammar schools in Northern Ireland to select pupils entering Year 8.

Naomi McBurney from PEG is concerned about the lack of consultation and engagement with parents and teachers over the new test.

She said, “I would like to know how the body will support P6 teachers from September 2022 to ensure they are supported to deliver the necessary coaching for this new test, and subsequently P7 teachers prior to September 2023.” 

“What past papers will be made available to teachers, parents and tutors to ensure pupils are ready for the new format and have the opportunity to adequately practise the tests prior to the first paper in November 2023?

“How can SEAG ensure pupils attending Catholic maintained, Irish-medium, integrated and controlled schools who currently prepare for the GL Assessment are not given an unfair advantage over the pupils attending those controlled schools who have a wealth of experience in only preparing for the AQE test?” 

Ms McBurney, primary school principals and teachers appear concerned about the lack of information surrounding the new test as pupils entering P6 in September 2022 will be sitting the first test in 2023.

Ms McBurney continued by saying “We don’t know what consultation was undertaken with primary school staff on the new arrangements and, if so, when this took place. Was there any consultation undertaken with parents on the new arrangements?

Michael Carville, principal at Regent House Grammar School in Newtownards and chair of the SEAG responded to Ms McBurney’s questions saying that SEAG “will endeavour to make information available to all parents, and other stakeholders, in a timely and open manner in the coming months”.

Ms McIlveen confirmed that “Following a competitive tender process, GL Assessment Ltd in England has been awarded a three-year contract to provide the test. Staff have been appointed locally to oversee the administration."

“The new testing format will consist of two papers, held on two Saturdays two weeks apart, provisionally scheduled for November 12 and November 26, 2023.

“Both test papers will contribute to candidates’ scores. I have been advised that the test papers will focus on the literacy and numeracy content of the curriculum at Key Stage 2. There will be a mixture of multiple-choice and open questions.”

“In terms of preparation for the test, I am advised that, as the test is still being developed, practice papers will not be available to schools, parents and pupils."

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