Over the next two weeks, parents across Northern Ireland with children currently in Year 7 will be completing their Transfer Form. In other words, they will be selecting schools in order of preference for their child to transfer to in September. Many parents and children at this point have a clear idea of where they would like to go, while others are waiting anxiously for transfer test (AQE and GL Assessment) results on Saturday 27th January, which will give a clearer picture of the schools accessible to them. The Belfast Telegraph has published a list of the entrance scores accepted by grammar schools in NI for the academic year 2017/2018. This is a useful guideline for parents: but remember that these scores vary year on year.
If you're still pondering what to put for your first and maybe second choices, it's a good idea to speak to parents who already have children at the schools. Parents can give you experiential feedback on everything, including:
- home-school support and feedback
- quality of education
- amount of homework
- choice and cost of afterschool clubs
- transport links
- school voluntary donations
- breakfast club and fees for specific classes
- support the school offers if your child is struggling with a particular subject
- how the school deals with bullying.
A school prospectus can provide you with a lot of information, but feedback from parents and pupils who already attend the school is invaluable. Some things pupils look for – what school has the most snow days! Pupils love the idea that they might get unexpected days off, but parents might also need to know if a school is commonly closed when there is adverse weather as this might impact on childcare.
The Transfer Form
Parents complete the Transfer Form, but pupils' preference and, if applicable, needs, plays a key role in the order of selection too. It is recommended that you choose at least four schools, listing them in order of preference, but being mindful there is no guarantee you will get your first or even second choice. It is important to include other information on this form such as whether or not another sibling attends one or more of the schools selected.
From all of us at Parentkind NI, we wish parents and children good luck for results day, but just as Mr Andrew Johnston (Y7 teacher at Kesh Primary School) says in his letter to his pupils: "You see, the score you received today does tell you something, but it certainly doesn’t tell you everything. Continue to work hard, try your very best and be kind and considerate to others and you will succeed no matter which school you end up going to."
Principal at Kesh PS adds, "Mr Johnston’s letter clearly reflects the ethos of Kesh PS, where all children are equal and valued. I believe ‘attitude’ plays a vital part. Firstly, a parent’s attitude to their child’s result - delighted or disappointed!! This can be so influential to the child. At our year group parents' meetings, we highlight the importance of the pupil’s attitude to their schoolwork, to results, to success and challenges that daily living brings. With a positive attitude, I believe all children will succeed at any of the Post-Primary Schools in our area: the opportunities are there and the child has a major role to play, and our role as parents and adults is to encourage and care."
For further information on completing the Transfer form, visit the Education Authority website and the document Guidance for Parents Completing a Transfer Form.