Coronavirus and academic selection

Academic selection reinforces privilege and disadvantage

A few months ago no one would have made a connection between academic selection at 11 and a world pandemic: but now they are firmly linked.

A number of grammar schools in Northern Ireland have announced that because of the restrictions brought about by Coronavirus that they will not be using the GL and AQE transfer tests to select pupils this year.

Numerous reports and studies by bodies ranging from the United Nations to the recent Iliad Report (Investigating Links in Achievement and Deprivation), undertaken by experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College in Belfast – repeatedly confirm that academic selection reinforces “privilege and disadvantage” and recommend the end of academic selection in Northern Ireland as a key way to reverse educational disadvantage.

Despite being officially abolished in 2008 the 11 Plus and academic selection has lived on through the transfer test system. Only now has it been halted in its tracks – not because of the educational disadvantage it creates, but because it is not safe to sit the tests.

If it is not needed this year, it is not needed any year.

All those opposed to academic selection – parents, teachers, trade unions and others – must reignite this debate and campaign for the complete and final abolition of academic selection at 11.

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