Transfer pupils will tell a tale

Two primary school principals have warned of the serious implications of the uncertainty over the future of post-primary education in the borough.

King’s Park head Terry Shields said he was aware that more parents are considering putting their children forward for the transfer exam because of the continuing row over the Dickson Plan.

According to Mr Shields, who like other principals has not yet been properly consulted, any changes to the current plan could give rise to more 11-year-olds taking the transfer test.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the deadline to register for the AQE transfer exam, favoured by the controlled sector. Friday, September 27 is the deadline for submissions for the maintained sector’s GL exam.

Mr Shields said: “There’s a few more parents thinking about it, but until Friday we won’t know.

“I’ve been at this school for 14 years and in that time 17 children have done the test out of over 1,000 who have gone through the school.

“The fear is of course that if things go the way they’re being proposed this number will increase.

“Further down the line if more and more children are going to post-primary schools in the likes of Banbridge and Lisburn you could have a situation where families are moving out of the area completely.”

According to Waringstown principal Gary Kennedy there has been no noticeable difference in the number of pupils applying for the transfer test.

Bleary principal Jill Neill concurred that there was no noticeable change there either, but added that should the development proposal go ahead there could be a surge in applications for the AQE exam.

She said: “Our parents would be very supportive of the Dickson Plan and are very pro-choice. As it stands they are very happy with the system in Craigavon.

“I suspect if the Dickson Plan were to go and choices were to be reduced things could change and many more children would go in for the transfer test.”

Further consultation is scheduled on the SELB’s development proposal which would see Lurgan College and Craigavon Senior High amalgamated into an all-abilities school for 14 to 18 year olds.

The grammar school lobby continue to fight the decision.