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Transfer test issue causing ‘great upset’ to pupils

A TYRONE mother believes the transfer test debacle is an ‘absolute disaster’ and has caused great upset to young pupils.

On Tuesday morning, it was announced that the Transfer Test which was supposed to start this weekend and continue on January 16 and 23 was cancelled.

Just hours later, the Association for Quality Education (AQE) announced that a one off single exam would be held on Saturday 27 February.

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AQE said it had taken the decision following a meeting with schools, however Clogher mother Audrey Keys believes that the situation caused great upset for the young students preparing for the test.

Her son Zach is hoping to go to Omagh Academy when he leaves Augher Central in June and had been preparing for the test over Christmas.

Audrey explained, “It is an absolute disaster.

“I told my son that the exam was not going ahead in January and he was understandably upset and thought all his hard work was for nothing but then six hours later, we were told it was just pushed back to February.

“You cannot tell a child something and then take it away from him.

“These children are 10 and 11 years old and decisions need to be made and stuck too because they are worrying about what will happen next.

“It is upsetting for children this young as it is hard for them to get their head around it,” said Audrey.

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The tests are used to select pupils by the majority of NI grammar schools, and 34 grammar schools throughout the North including Omagh Academy, were originally planning to use the AQE test to admit pupils for 2021.

Audrey has praised the schools for the support they have given pupils but believes the Executive must provide more guidance to schools and principals.

Audrey continued, “The schools are doing their very best in these difficult circumstances.

“The schools have been absolutely fantastic because they do not know what is happening either.

“Zach’s principal had been in contact with him over the Christmas break and has worked so hard to support the pupils who are doing the transfer test.

“It is shambolical that schools, parents and pupils are not being told anything clearly, but rather we have to wait and hear it on the news or on social media.

“It is hard to keep the children’s spirits and morale up.

“There will have to be something if the tests do not go ahead – each child does assessments throughout the year and surely something could be done to prevent this kind of situation,” said Audrey.

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