Northern Ireland

Royal School Armagh loses transfer test appeal bid

An NI grammar school failed in a legal challenge on Tuesday over an appeals process for the new transfer test.

The Royal School Armagh's board of governors was seeking declaratory relief, or judge's decision on the issue in a bid to clarify the situation.

Two pupils were denied places at the school but were admitted following an independent tribunal.

The school did not attempt to overturn the decision to allow either child in.

Instead, the legal challenge centred on the criteria to be applied in procedures surrounding the test and any subsequent appeal.

It was contended that any special circumstances did not establish that the pupils would have been awarded a higher grade.

But the judge Mr Justice McCloskey refused to grant leave to seek a judicial review because it would be difficult to make a declaration with "beneficial educative value".

"I have come to the conclusion that each of those is an intensely fact-sensitive case which does not throw up that broader point of law, or broader principle, or point of statutory construction," Mr McCloskey said.

Although he acknowledged that only declaratory relief was being sought, the judge said it would be "intensely undesirable for any shadow to overhang" the pupils' admissions.

He added that both were now well settled having achieved their ambitions of gaining a place at Royal School Armagh.

"It is my view that the dust is now settling and the status quo should remain without any disturbance," the judge said.

"For these reasons I am disinclined to grant leave to apply for judicial review, and I refuse the application."