14,000 NI children receive results of first common transfer tests

The results of the test, run by the Schools Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG), will be used by over 60 schools to select their incoming cohort of Year 8 students.

14,000 children in Northern Ireland who received the results of a new common transfer test on Saturday morning are being reminded that their results "don't define them".

The results of the test, run by the Schools Entrance Assessment Group (SEAG), will be used by over 60 schools to select their incoming cohort of Year 8 students.

The exams took place over two weekends in November and December 2023, but the wait continues, as the children who took the tests will not find out what schools they will attend until May.

The new test marked the biggest shake-up to the system since the 60-year-old 11 Plus was scrapped in 2008.

Michael Carville is the chairperson of SEAG and Principal at Regent House School in Newtownards.

"Firstly, I would like to congratulate all the pupils on their results today, after all the hard work they put into preparing for the two assessments, so well done, congratulations and I hope you do something to celebrate today," he said.

"My advice to anybody receiving results today is, read the admissions criteria of the schools carefully that you are interested in. Every school has different admissions criteria.

"Talk to your primary school principal and teacher - they're very experienced, they know what they are talking about.

"One resource that may be particularly useful to them today, is where they can compare the SEAG score with historical performance in AQE and PPTC."

Resources for parents and guardians can be accessed here.

There will be some celebration for students and their families, but others may have found this a stressful or disappointing day.

Northern Ireland Children's Commissioner Chris Quinn says he still remembers how it felt when he failed his 11-Plus.

"I think most people can remember the day that they got their results, for me, I was away with the scouts, and it was probably the best place for me," he said.

"I remember my parents being very, very stressed. I didn't pass my 11-Plus, as it was called back in the day.

"My message to all children, whether they did the test or not, whether they passed it or not, you are a success, you are loved, and you will go on to accomplish your dreams.

"Your result does not define you."

Mr Quinn said that despite this big change, the system as a whole needs dramatic change.

"My focus when I think about this is the wellbeing of children and I think we have to put that at the forefront of our minds.

"When I listen to children and their parents, and even in the media this last few days, I've heard stories of stress, some people talk about traumatic experiences, and that stress trickles through a family, it trickles through a school," he said.

"It's terrible that it still exists. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and various academics have said that this test should not exist.

"This system is supposed to make it less complicated but I had a look at the grade boundaries last night and I feel that they are very complicated.

"Children sat two tests in November, they got their results today, but they won't know what school they're going to until May, so that's more anxiety.

"Primary 7 should be a really lovely year for children, as they embark on the next part of their educational journey."

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