It’s as testing for mums as for children

So tomorrow marks the big day in our house - the day of the long awaited transfer test.

The last few months in particular have been fraught. We have all played a delicate game of “push, but not too hard”, “it’s important to study, but the test is not important” and, my favourite. “as long you give it your best, that’s all that matters”.

We have dealt with the practice tests, the emotional meltdowns (a fair share of which I had, not him), the parent/teacher meetings, the pleading, the studying, the relearning of every mathematical term I had blocked out from school and much more.

And in the morning I will drop my child off at the carpark of St. Columb’s College (parents not being allowed to accompany their child into the building) and I will drive a short distance away, park the car and sit and cry for half an hour before trying to get on with my morning not worrying about well he is coping with the strain of the exam.

My experience of the last few months has been enlightening. Is there still a place for selection in Northern Ireland? Probably- yes. Schools should be able to divide children to best work to their strengths and to support their areas of weakness.

Is the solution to the transfer question this current process? Most certainly - and undoubtedly - not.

I have certainly berated myself for putting my son through the transfer process - but console myself with the notion that it was very much his decision and he had our backing, at any time, to remove himself from it.

I have told him, and this is my fervent opinion on the matter, is that is a silly test which measures not even one hundredth of a child’s ability or worth. It cannot measure the creativity of a child, their social skills, their vast general knowledge. It does not measure their likelihood to succeed in life. It does not measure how much they are loved - and how much love their show.

It does not measure how funny their jokes are, or sees their dry wit in action.

At best it’s limited, and worst it’s elitist - but tomorrow, at least, it will be over. For all those children sitting this test, and the tests in other schools, I wish you (and your poor stressed out mammy) all the very best.

On a final note, this will be my last column for a few months as I take a break from work. See you all in the new year.