College outlines selection plan

Written by: Simon Doyle | Published:

An integrated secondary school is seeking to be the first in Northern Ireland in a decade to introduce unregulated exams to admit pupils.

A development proposal has been published which states that Strangford College in Co Down wishes to begin “selection by academic ability or aptitude” from as early as next year.

Academic selection is typically the preserve of grammar schools in Northern Ireland. It does exist to a lesser extent in the integrated sector, where two schools have used testing for years to admit up to
35 per cent of pupils.

However, no school has introduced 11-plus tests since the government ended its involvement 10 years ago.

The number of schools using unofficial entry tests has fallen in that time. Now Strangford is seeking to become the first to introduce academic selection.

It quizzed parents of primary school children last year and found there was significant support for such a change.

The school has had an informal academic admissions policy since 2015. Parents can request consideration for grammar entry by providing evidence of their children’s academic ability.

The school may look at a range of evidence including the scores of Progress in Maths and Progress in English tests, which are taken annually and allow staff to track the progress of children in key areas.
Lagan College in Belfast and Slemish College in Ballymena are established “bilateral” schools.

Strangford says: “It is clear that the wider community wanted Strangford to offer a model of entry similar to Lagan and Slemish.

“This in turn makes the process much simpler for parents. The precedent has been set by these colleges, which are of the same school type – grant maintained integrated,” the school adds.

“Both Lagan and Slemish Colleges have demonstrated that the use of this admission system has enhanced the curricular provision for and performance of students at all academic levels.”


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