Northern Ireland

Transfer test security breach investigation to be revealed

Marking exam
Image caption Thousands of P7 pupils have sat the unofficial tests since the 11-plus was abolished three years ago

Results of an investigation into an alleged breach of security on transfer tests are to be revealed on Monday.

The issue was raised by principals of Catholic secondary and primary schools.

They claim some pupils had an unfair advantage because they had seen the 2009 transfer paper before the 2010 test.

Education Minister John O'Dowd had delayed revealing the outcome until all this year's transfer tests had been completed.

Catholic grammar schools have continued to use academic selection since the official 11-plus ended three years ago.

They commissioned tests from an English company, GL Assessment, on the understanding that past papers would not be used to prepare pupils for the test.

Earlier this year, the Catholic Principals Association claimed to have evidence that the 2009 paper was copied and circulated among some pupils, giving them an unfair advantage over other children.

GL Assessment said if that was true it would be a breach of copyright and security.

Mr O'Dowd began an investigation in June and although he received the results some weeks ago, he delayed revealing the outcome until all this year's transfer tests had been completed.

Mr O'Dowd, who has opposed the unregulated tests and wants all academic selection to end, is expected to make the findings public later.

Thousands of Primary 7 pupils have been sitting the tests introduced by grammar schools since the 11-plus was abolished.

It was revealed in November that talks are to be held with the two bodies which hold unofficial transfer tests in Northern Ireland to establish a single exam.

The AQE test is used mainly by non-denominational grammar schools and the GL assessments are used mostly by Catholic-maintained grammar schools.

Sinn Fein, which pushed through the abolition of the 11-plus, remains resolutely opposed to both tests.

Education Minister John O'Dowd claims they are no more than a clever marketing device by the grammar schools.

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