Children’s Commissioner Expresses Deep Concern at U Turn on Academic Selection Policy

7 September 2016 News

Speaking about the decision by Education Minister Peter Weir to allow schools to prepare pupils for unregulated transfer tests, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said:

“I am deeply disappointed at today’s news.  This decision will do very little to reduce the gap between richer and poorer students and it is not in the best interests of all our children”.

Free School Meals is an indicator of social deprivation. A quarter of all pupils in Northern Ireland are now entitled to Free School Meals and this figure is increasing.

The Commissioner continued:

“Three times as many children from areas of social deprivation attend non selective schools than attend grammar schools and less than half of these children achieved at least 5 GCSEs grades A*- C.  We cannot justify a system which blatantly disadvantages a section of our community.

“It is clear that academic selection discriminates against children from disadvantaged communities, we need an education system that delivers for all of our children.

“Whilst I understand the reasons for the Minister’s decision within the current system, it is not even a sticking plaster to a system that requires root and branch reform”.


Notes to Editors

  • Please contact Patrice Morris, Communications and Engagement Officer, NICCY on 028 9031 1616, 07917 544 177 or email
  • The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People was established in 2003 by the Assembly and Parliament to: “safeguard and promote the rights and best interests of children and young people”.