Newry and Kilkeel grammar schools scrap academic selection for 2022

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

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Child doing schoolwork
Image caption,
The five grammar schools in Newry and Kilkeel are abandoning academic selection for next year

Five Catholic grammar schools in Newry and Kilkeel are abandoning academic selection for 2022.

In a joint letter, the schools said the move was due to "the impact of school closure on the current P6 pupils".

They will not use the transfer test run by the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) set by GL Assessment for a second year as a result.

Four other schools in Londonderry and Belfast have previously made a similar decision.

The letter also said that current P6 pupils were also affected by the school closure as P5 pupils.

Abbey Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Our Lady's Grammar School, Sacred Heart Grammar School and St Colman's College - which are in Newry - and St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel announced the move in a letter to parents.

The schools have over 4,000 pupils in total and jointly admit around 600 children each year.

The joint letter to parents said the schools' governors had considered the impact of school closures on the local community.

"They recognise that there has been significant disruption to the education of pupils since March 2020 and understand that there may be further disruption for children throughout the remainder of the 2021-22 academic year and beyond," it said.

"The respective boards of governors are particularly aware of the impact of school closure on the current P6 pupils who were also affected by school closure as P5 pupils."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
A number of schools in Northern Ireland have abandoned the academic selection for 2022

The governors said that, as a result, they would not use academic criteria to admit pupils in September 2022.

"As a result, none of the five schools will use outcomes from GL Entrance Assessment as part of their admissions criteria for the academic year 2022-23," the letter said.

"Pupils applying to these schools will not be required to provide a GL Entrance Assessment result.

"Each school remains committed to its own ethos and academic focus on high quality teaching and learning."

It added: "Those who would normally apply to be admitted to each individual school are encouraged to continue to do so.

"Careful consideration was given to this decision to temporarily remove the academically selective element of each school's admissions criteria for the academic year 2022-23.

"It is hoped that both the decision to temporarily amend admissions criteria and the timing of this notification will provide clarity in the local area for P6 pupils and their parents/carers."

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