Transfer Test Postponed to January 2021

Should the Transfer Test be cancelled? What are your thoughts?

Following a challenge in the High Court, this year’s Transfer Test has been further delayed until January 2021. The decision was made to allow children more preparation time due to the loss of in-class learning over lockdown. The children of the Newry & Mourne area will largely remain unaffected as local grammar schools decided to cancel the test for this year only. However, Education Support Hub assists children from across Northern Ireland, including pupils in areas that will be affected by the ruling. 

Although there is logic behind the decision, I must question will this extra time really benefit pupils it sets out to help? The judgement was awarded to assist disadvantaged children that may not have the benefit of private tuition, giving them extra in-class preparation time. However, due to the build-up to Christmas and school holidays (further time outside of the classroom) wedged in between the new exam dates, I feel that the advantages will prove to be limited. Teachers will tell you December is almost a ‘write-off’ in terms of academic progress because of the obvious distractions and excitement. It must also be noted that both GL and AQE exams use standardised scoring. Essentially, this means that scores are awarded in conjunction with averages taken from a particular group of children sitting the exams. The ratio of preparation time for pupils undertaking the test will remain largely unchanged as children that have been preparing over lockdown will also have the same extra time. The decision to move the tests will have a minimal impact on results but it will disrupt a much-needed Christmas break for the children who have been working tirelessly towards the December dates. 

Debate to cancel the Transfer Test Re-Ignited

There have been further calls to cancel the Transfer Test completely following the news of its postponement to January 2021. The argument to scrap the tests has remained on the table since its inception. However, my position remains that I am in favour of their continuation. I feel that there must be some form of academic selection in order to place a child in an environment that is best suited to support their academic ability. Even when a child goes to their ‘big school’, a form of academic selection is practiced when they are put into ability groups. There is an obvious competitive nature to the tests, but I feel that it is important that we prepare our children for the competitive nature of life. Do we scrap all the competitive aspects of a child’s life including sports, music and drama? Additionally, do we end all academic selection including GCSEs and A-Levels?

I feel that if we truly want to improve the quality of education for all of our children, the arguments around education should not focus on the Transfer Test, but the constant and unsustainable education cuts to Northern Ireland. Over the past 10 years, funding has been cut by 11% in comparison to 2% in Scotland. Improved and fair distribution of public funds to schools would help with reducing classroom sizes, and equipping pupils with better resources to assist in their educational development. 

This Week’s Education Tip 

If your child struggles on a particular subject, I would recommend that you buy an age-appropriate textbook in that area. Additionally, due to gaps in learning and missed classroom time, it would also be beneficial to purchase a textbook which covers the year group below their current class and working through that first. Before sitting down to help, have a plan of what you are going to cover. It would particularly beneficial to either reinforce what they have learnt at school or to ‘pre-teach’ what they will be covering in class the following week. Most teachers will have a termly plan and will be able to tell you what your child will be covering so it may prove worthwhile to make that inquiry. It is also critical that you familiarise yourself with teaching techniques of particular areas. The technique in which you were taught something in school may have changed and you do not want to confuse your child. Most of this information will be available online through videos which you could watch together.

Accelerate Academic Progress with Education Support Hub

Education Support Hub assists children of all primary ages. Following an initial free assessment, your child will join a small group (maximum 4) with similar academic ability. Groups of 4 children help mirror a classroom environment while still allowing our fully qualified teachers to provide individually tailored lessons and carry out a continual assessment on their progress. The teaching methods we use cater to a range of different learning styles to provide the tools for your child to become a more confident learner. We also utilise textbooks that are used by local primary schools, further assisting children in applying their new learning directly back to the classroom.  

Sessions are delivered by Access NI cleared tutors through the online platform Zoom, ensuring that classroom bubble guidance is adhered to in the comfort of your own home. If you would like more information, please contact us.

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