Who is responsible for helping my child prepare for the Transfer Test? - Mums NI - A Hub For Parents in Northern Ireland

Who is responsible for helping my child prepare for the Transfer Test?

Who is responsible for helping my child prepare for the Transfer Test?

Who is responsible for helping my child prepare for the Transfer Test?
Clare Rimmer
Written by Clare Rimmer on Monday, 18 June 2018 Posted in: Your Kids Education

This year’s Primary 6 children who wish to gain entry to one of Northern Ireland’s 63 selective grammar schools are already well in to their preparations for the November tests.  As any parent who has already been through the process will tell you it is often a stressful experience for children. From the point of view of a teacher who has been helping parents and children negotiate the transfer minefield for over 10 years, I would say that if your child is able and willing and you plan the preparation in the build up to the test carefully to make sure you have given them ample opportunity to learn the curriculum and practise their exam technique then you can get through the process without heartache.   

Who is responsible for helping my child prepare for the Transfer Test?
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What many parents we see in our tuition centre are concerned about is the varying degrees of test preparation that their child’s Primary School is providing.  The decision was made in 2016 by the then Education Minister, Peter Weir to lift the ban on schools preparing children for these tests. Many schools had continued to prepare children for the tests under the radar prior to this, but this instruction from the Department of Education has allowed them to be more open about what they can offer in terms of test preparation.  What it does not mean however, is that schools have a uniform approach to the tests. These tests are not prescribed by the Department of Education, there is no guidance on what should be taught and how much time should be spent on it from the Department. Schools are instructed by the Department of Education to teach the Key Stage 2 curriculum not the curriculum of these unregulated tests. Because of this, the approach varies widely between schools.  While some schools may provide children with past papers and spend time in class sitting, marking and going over as many as two tests per week, many others do not. As the AQE and PPTC state that the tests follow the Key Stage 2 curriculum schools may feel that that is all they are obligated to teach.

Schools also have to consider the children who do not wish to sit the test. Parents whose children aren’t sitting the tests have every right to feel concerned about the teaching and learning their children are receiving during test preparation time and schools have to consider this very carefully.  Some schools get round this by offering after school classes for those sitting the test.

Whatever your child’s school is doing it is important to consider your options.  In my opinion due to the nature of the questions in this test, past paper practise is vital to how successful your child will be.  They will need some instruction in exam technique. This instruction is going to come from either, the class teacher, a parent/guardian or a private tutor.  If the school is not providing enough of this type of teaching it may be worthwhile speaking to your child’s teacher about your concerns. There may be more than one parent in your child’s class who feels the same way.  If there is demand from parents the school may be prepared to offer more. Consider whether you are able to help your child prepare yourself. Order a past paper from the AQE website. Are you able to answer the maths and English questions correctly and crucially can you explain to the child effectively so they understand and are able to apply that knowledge with a positive outcome?  Make sure you are up to date with current maths teaching methods as you do not want to confuse your child. Many things have changed since you were at school! If you are in any doubt then consider getting a private tutor to take the stress away.

Tagged with: advice forum for mums, helping kids education, kids education, preparing for transfer test

Further Reading

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