3 Feb 2009

NORTHERN Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today expressed her fear that children are suffering increased anxiety as a result of the school transfer chaos.

The Commissioner said that both sides of the transfer debate have become embroiled in a debate that has left pupils and parents confused over what was the best way to transfer to post-primary education.

“I urge the Department of Education and the bodies objecting to the new proposals to sit down round the table and come to a resolution, or at least an understanding, that there needs to be clarity.

“Today, there exists at least two ways being proposed for transfer; the Minister’s Transfer 2010 proposals and the grammar schools’ test arrangements.

“Parents want the best possible schooling for their children, and pupils want the school where they will be happiest.” 

Ms Lewsley said there was a small window of opportunity to resolve the confusion. 

“I urge both sides to remember that this debate is about children’s education. They have enough anxiety transferring to the ‘big’ school without the current situation adding to it. 

“I am not going to say which side is the best option for children, but I urge all concerned to ask children what they want. 

“The best people to ask are the children who have recently experienced the transfer and who are about to transfer can help this process.

“In fact while the name calling and confusion rules the airwaves, the only voice absent from the debate is the voice of children.”

Ms Lewsley said she would be writing to the Minister urging her to consult with children over her current proposals.

MEDIA ENQUIRIES For more information please contact Andrew McGall, Communication Officer at NICCY on 028 9031 1616 or   communications@niccy.org