AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE 11-PLUS
the debate over the ending of the 11-plus examination
continues a survey shows that most people want pupils
to stay at the same school until the age of 14 and then
go on to either secondary or grammar schools.
was the preferred option of 73% of people who feel that
the current system of education in Northern Ireland should
questioned by the Life and Times Survey - a joint project
between Queen's University and the University of Ulster
- were given three options:
children stay at the same school until the age of 14
before moving on to either grammar or secondary schools.
children go to the same school until the age of 16 and
then split to do either A-Levels or vocational training.
all secondary schools that wish to select up to a third
of their pupils for a 'grammar stream'.
three per cent opted for the first choice; 60% for the
second and 57% for the third.
the survey, conducted in 2001, showed that there is little
consensus of opinion about the current academic selection
system. Most people (75%) felt the 11-plus put too much
pressure on 10 and 11 year olds and (69%) that pupils
were too young at that age to take the tests.
the vast majority of respondents (84%) accepted that selection
has to happen at some time and 69% said that children
who do not get places at grammar schools still get a first-class
about the effectiveness of the 11-plus, only 32% said
that it works well enough with 59% saying it should be
changed. Some 55% of respondents said that both the examination
and the system of secondary and grammar schools should
survey showed that those who would like to see the 11-plus
tests changed prefer a delay in the selection process
until the age of 14. The second most favoured option is
a different type of test closely followed by a preference
for the use of teacher assessment.
Tony Gallagher Professor of Education at Queen's University
and Professor Alan Smith, who holds the UNESCO chair of
Education at the University of Ulster will present the
detailed results of the survey at a seminar today being
held at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast
Gallagher said: "The Life and Times data identifies a
high degree of dissatisfaction with key aspects of the
selection system of secondary education and, in particular,
the tests used to select pupils at age 11 - a pattern
confirmed by the results of the consultation on the Burns
the same time the Life and Times evidence points to a
widespread view that some form of selection is probably
inevitable and that grammar schools provide a high quality
respondents favour the end of the 11-plus tests and many
feel that pupils should attend the same school until age
14 or even 16.
while there was general agreement that some change should
occur, there is limited consensus on the exact nature
of that change".