Serious consideration should be given to abolishing transfer tests after survey, says Lyttle

There should be serious consideration given to abolishing transfer tests for post-primary admissions, Alliance Education spokesperson Chris Lyttle MLA has said, after a major survey showed a significant percentage of respondents felt it should be scrapped.

The survey, launched by the Assembly’s Education Committee in July to collect the views of parents/guardians, teachers and others on the issue of post-primary transfer tests, showed over 43 per cent of respondents felt the current post-primary transfer tests should be abolished, 19 per cent felt they should be retained, 29 per cent felt they should be reformed and nine per cent were unsure.

In addition, 61 per cent of parents/guardians, 64 per cent of teachers and 67 per cent of others stated they were very or extremely concerned about children taking the post-primary transfer test following the lockdown period. Over 8,500 completed surveys were received by the Committee.

“These are important figures and I thank everyone who responded to the survey,” said Mr Lyttle.

“I have previously called for the post-primary admissions tests to be abolished entirely. Research from Stranmillis University College found access to and performance in the transfer tests is mediated by socio-economic status. That has been exacerbated by the impact of the ongoing pandemic on young people and their education, with the disruption having a particular consequence for those approaching this test.

“These results show a significant percentage of people feel strongly enough to call for the removal of the tests entirely and serious consideration must now be given to abolishing them. The Assembly Education Committee will now bring a motion to the Assembly calling on Education Minister Peter Weir to outline contingency plans for transfer tests this year.

“Alliance will continue working toward a sensible outcome for children and I urge the Minister to pursue alternative methods of transferring pupils.”