An organisation representing the views of Catholic head teachers has lashed out at the examination system for pupils transferring to post-primary level schools.
As this year’s Transfer Testing system got under way last weekend, the Catholic Principals’ Association (CPA) released a statement lambasting the continued use of the unregulated tests.
The predecessor of the new system, the 11 Plus Examination, was scrapped by the N. Ireland Assembly in 2008 .
The CPA statement noted the organisation’s “grave and increasing concern with the continued use of unregulated tests to select and reject pupils for 26 Catholic grammar schools.”
In Derry, Thornhill College, St. Columb’s College, Lumen Christi College and Foyle College utilise the Transfer Tests to select pupils.
The statement from the CPA also points out that in January this year, Archbishop Eamon Martin stated his opposition to the transfer system.
The Catholic Primate of All-Ireland said: “In this day and age no young person should be turned away from a Catholic school on the basis of an entrance test at the age of 10 or 11.”
The CPA also asserted that the continued practice “ignores the compelling evidence provided by human rights organisations and the N. Ireland Equality Commission that educational selection at such a young age has created a two-tier system which has “a hugely damaging effect on the outcomes and attainments for children from the most disadvantaged communities.”
Continued use of this selection process, also say the CPA, is doing “serious and lasting damage to the ethos and reputation of Catholic education.”
“How can anyone in society continue to advocate and speak the language of social justice, inclusion and high quality provision for all while simultaneously practising educational exclusion and de facto social streaming?” the statement continued.
The CPA also state they believe that in areas where selection has ceased “Catholic schools continue to flourish and prosper with the support and endorsement of parents. The ending of unnecessary unregulated and stressful testing has been a clear benefit in these areas. It is a model CPA would propose for all Catholic provision.”
In conclusion, the CPA called on all trustees and representatives on individual Boards of Governors to publicly state their position on the selection process.
The CPA also asked them to state why they are unwilling or unable to adopt the non-selective process advocated by the head of the Catholic Church because they see no valid moral, social or ethical reasons not to do this.