Legal challenge to decision to delay post primary tests

by Rebecca Black, PA

 

The decision to postpone independently run post primary transfer tests is set to face a legal challenge.

The 2020 tests, scheduled to be sat in the autumn, have been delayed by at least two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.

They are used by most grammar schools in Northern Ireland to determine their year 8 entries.

The mother of her 10-year-old girl is challenging the decision to delay rather than cancel the 2020 tests.

She is contending it is "unfair" to expect children to sit the tests after suffering so much disruption to their education, and said the situation is exasperated for children who attend an Irish language school and plans to sit the transfer exam in Irish.

"With her parents already juggling siblings, work and not having a high standard of the Irish language to maintain quality of teaching at home, the young person cannot continue to learn like some other children," the Phoenix Law firm contended in a statement.

There are two sets of independently run tests set by the Association of Quality Education (AQE) and the Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC).

The PPTC and the Education Minister Peter Weir have been named in this legal challenge.

The mother of the girl said her daughter has not been at school since March 23.

"We do not know when the schools will reopen however the minister and test organisers have seen fit to set a date for the new exams regardless," she said.

"They have a duty not only to educate children but to ensure their emotional wellbeing and access to educational opportunity regardless of background. I do not feel their decision reflects this.

"I believe my daughter, and many others, have been significantly disadvantaged which in turn is causing further unnecessary stress to the children and their parents at this already very difficult time."

Solicitor Ciaran Moynagh added: "It is difficult to envisage how children will be ready for any exams in November or December when we are not even sure how or if schools will open in September.

"GCSE and A-level students have been accommodated by significant shifts in approach. Transfer test students deserve equal accommodation as these exams have an equally significant impact on a young person's prospects."

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