By Q Radio News
AQE has cancelled the transfer test due to be sat on February the 27th.
The body says it will recommend that there should be no assessment this year - due to health and safety concerns which is it's top priority.
Full statement issued by the Board of AQE Limited which has cancelled its transfer test due to be sat by some P7 pupils on Feb 27. pic.twitter.com/dyoceegM1M— Q Radio News (@qnewsdesk) January 13, 2021
In a statement the body said:
“Due to the ongoing uncertainty about the potential for an extended period of lockdown, the Board of AQE Limited has decided to recommend to our grammar schools, the membership of AQE, that there should be no assessment offered by AQE in this academic year. The test scheduled for Saturday 27th February will therefore not take place.
“The health and safety of the children due to sit the exams is our top priority. As we cannot guarantee that the Executive will not extend the lockdown period at this stage, we do not want to cause any distress to the children and their parents by extending this period of uncertainty. We know these are anxious times for many.
“We will be writing to parents individually over the coming days to confirm these arrangements. We hope this will end the period of uncertainty for the children who have been working so hard for these assessments. We wish to thank the Minister for Education, his officials and the Education Authority for their support”.
The Minister of Education of said: “I am disappointed that AQE will not be operating a test this year on the grounds of public health. This will also be very disappointing for many pupils and parents.
“Today’s decision by AQE makes it an impossibility for any such test to happen. It is clear that public health and the wider Covid-19 situation has prevented the transfer test taking place this year.
“Transfer tests have never been compulsory for any school nor any student, but what they have provided for many has been parental choice and opportunity for children to gain a place at a post primary school of their choosing. Today’s announcement diminishes that choice significantly.
“In view of the ongoing public health situation, I had recommended to Boards of Governors that they should prepare contingency criteria in the event the transfer tests did not go ahead.
“These criteria should be finalised soon by schools and will be published by the Education Authority on 2 February. However, in light of the changes today, we are extending the date for schools to submit final admissions criteria to the Education Authority, until 22 January. My officials will issue further correspondence to schools.
“Schools still have the opportunity to use either non-academically selective criteria or alternative data as a proxy for academic selection, but neither route is without its difficulties, and our previous guidance that they seek clear advice before they determine their course of action remains.
“Along with my Department, I stand ready to continue to work with all schools in the difficult circumstances created by the current health situation.”
The joint chief executive of transfer test organiser AQE, Darrin Barr, apologised to pupils.
He told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme: “We are sorry for the distress caused.
“Everyone is working with the uncertainty of Covid as restrictions change very quickly and we have been reacting.”
He added: “Of course we do not want to cause uncertainty and that is why we have come out with this announcement today.”
He said thousands of children and parents had wanted the test to go ahead.
He said the organisation had been unable to get clarification from the authorities around the restrictions.
“So children can get certainty about the next six weeks and to reduce the anxiety we went ahead and cancelled,” he said.