Catholic heads hit out at transfer tests

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Catholic head teachers have called on Archbishop Eamon Martin to set out a new vision for Catholic education, and strongly condemned the continued use of academic selection across the North.

In a strongly worded statement issued by the Catholic Principals’ Association (CPA) yesterday as thousands of primary level pupils prepared for unapproved transfer tests, the league called for an end to selection.

The association, which represents over 230 Catholic schools, reiterated its opposition to “a system of selection which promotes social segregation and inequality”.

It claimed selection has been shown to damage the educational prospects of children from disadvantaged communities and said that no part of Catholic education should prioritise the needs of individual institutions over the needs of pupils.

It said: “We call on Archbishop Eamon Martin and the Senior Trustees to set out a new, authentic vision for Catholic education which is inclusive of all children within our community”.

Jim Clarke, Chief Executive of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) also reiterated its opposition to selection.

“The Council at its meeting on October 19 restated its opposition to the continuance of academic selection. It endorsed the position articulated by the Catholic Bishops of Northern Ireland in their statement of June 21, 2012 and its own position dating back to 2002”.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference told the Journal that the Bishops’ position remained that outlined by Archbishop Martin last year when he said: “In this day and age no young person should be turned away from a Catholic school on the basis of their mark in an entrance test at the age of ten or eleven.”