St Francis’ gets letter about transfer tests


St Francis’ primary school has been named as one of 11 which received letters from the Department of Education over concerns at the possible coaching of pupils for unregulated transfer tests.

The 11 Plus was scrapped in 2008, however, some grammar schools started using new tests to select pupils. Results of the tests were due out last Saturday.

The department told teachers in the past they should not coach pupils for the tests.

It said it wrote to some primary schools following reports that these schools may have been involved in coaching pupils for the unregulated tests during core teaching hours. “This was to provide the school principals with an opportunity to confirm that the board of governors had complied with their legal duty to have regard to the department’s guidance, and that the school was meeting its statutory obligation to deliver the curriculum to all pupils.

“The fact that the department writes to a school does not indicate that the school has been engaging in preparing children for unregulated tests, or indeed that the school is failing to deliver the statutory curriculum.

“It is intended to enable the schools to provide the department with the assurance that the pupils’ educational needs are being appropriately met.”

Mark Langhammer, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the coaching was acceptable outside school hours. “Many of the schools, either from their own resources or paid for by parents, do offer coaching sessions outside of school either at weekends or after school,” he said.

There are two unofficial replacement systems for the 11-plus in operation. The single, multiple choice GL Assessment is used mostly by Catholic schools and the AQE sets a different exam for other schools. The school was asked for comment but none had been received at time of going to press.