THE Principal of St Patrick's High School in Lisburn, Dr Seamus Quinn, has hailed a statement from the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education on the post-primary transfer of pupils to Catholic Schools as a "blueprint for the future of education".
The NICCE this week released a policy statement saying academic selection at the age of 11 had "no place in a modern education system." The Commission called for an end to academic selection by 2012 but gave the go-ahead for Catholic grammar schools to set entrance exams in the meantime.
Some Catholic grammar schools have said they will set entrance exams in the absence of an official test.
Bishop Donal McKeown, Chair of NICCE, said: "This is a clear statement from the Catholic Trustees that academic selection at age eleven has no place in a modern education system. The new arrangements will not damage excellence in any of our schools. Together they will provide equality of access to meet the needs of all children."
Welcoming the announcement Dr Quinn, who was part of the working group that provided advice to the Commission, said: "I am very pleased they recognised it was a unanimous piece of work.
"I am also pleased the Commission has committed all Catholic schools to remove academic selection as a criterion for selecting children transferring to post-primary education. "This is very I. in line with the ethos of Catholic Schools," he continued. "The interests of the child has more importance than the interests of any one institution."
However, Lagan Valley MLA and Alliance Party Education Spokesperson Trevor Lunn, said he was disappointed by the statement from the Commission and said it failed to "clarify this matter".
He said: "The Commission for Catholic Education has given Catholic grammar schools the go ahead to set their own entrance exams.
"We now face the prospect of different tests set by different schools/sectors and we feel strongly that this is not the right way forward.
"The Catholic Commission said that in the absence of a regulated system testing may be necessary. We would welcome this but their overall plans do not help clarify this matter for parents, pupils or teachers."