HC Deb 27 November 2002 vol 395 cc291-2W
13. Mr. Andrew Turner

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the reform of the secondary school admissions process. [81611]

Jane Kennedy

The recommendations of an independent Post Primary Review Body, chaired by Mr. Gerry Burns, were published for consultation in October 2001. The consultation, which was extensive, inclusive and transparent, ended on 28 June 2002 and a report on the responses was published on 8 October 2002. The responses indicated a widespread demand for change and an emerging consensus, including among political parties, for the ending of the transfer tests.

I am determined to take the review forward and to continue to work towards the abolition of the transfer tests as soon as practical. No decisions have been taken about academic selection or new post-primary arrangements. In the responses to consultation a range of suggestions were made for future post-primary arrangements, including options involving academic selection, and Department of Education officials will be discussing these issues with key education partners and representatives of parents in the coming weeks. My aim is to develop a modern and fair education system which addresses the weaknesses of our current arrangements and enables all children to fulfil their potential.