A timeline of the development of transfer policy

The following article details a timeline for the development of transfer policy.

Autumn 1998

Education Minister Tony Worthington, MP, commissioned research into the effects of the selective system.

September 2000

Publication of the research report The Effects of the Selective System of Secondary Education in Northern Ireland’ by Professors Gallagher (QUB) and Smith (UU).

Following publication of the research findings, Martin McGuinness MP MLA established the independent Post-Primary Review Body, chaired by Gerry Burns, to consult widely, identify key issues and make recommendations for new post-primary arrangements.

October 2001

Education for the 21st Century: Report by the Post-Primary Review Body' (the Burns Report) was published for consultation. The multi-stranded consultation on this ended on 28 June 2002.

October 2002

The Review of Post-Primary Education: Report on the Responses to Consultation’ was published.

April 2003

After the suspension of devolution, Jane Kennedy, MP, established the Post-Primary Review Working Group, chaired by Steve Costello. The group’s task was to take account of the responses to the consultation on the Burns Report, including the diversity of views on academic selection, and provide advice on options for future arrangements.

November 2003

The Working Group submitted its report (Costello Report) to Jane Kennedy.

January 2004

Jane Kennedy published the advice from the Working Group, accepted its recommendations in full, including the ending of the Transfer Tests in 2008.

January 2005

Barry Gardiner, MP, published a consultation document on new admissions arrangements. The consultation ended on 30 June 2005. The Department of Education has made available responses from key organisations to the consultation on new admissions arrangements.  

December 2005

Angela Smith, MP, announced new admissions arrangements due to come into effect after 2009, and launched a consultation on the draft Education (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, which ran until March 2006.

A summary report on the responses to the admissions consultation was published.

June 2006

Maria Eagle, MP, announced that the draft Education Order had been laid before Parliament and published a report on responses to the consultation on the Order. In recognition of the process to restore devolution, a vote by the Assembly would be required to end academic selection, provided the Assembly was restored by 24 November.

June/July 2006

Debates in both Houses of Parliament. The Draft Order was approved and made at the July Privy Council meeting.

November 2006

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2006 extended the timeframe for restoration of devolution to 28 March 2007.

January 2007

First Commencement Order made, enacting Articles 21 (from 26 January) and 35 (from 11 June).

Sub group submits report on Schools Admission Policy. This is approved by the Committee on the Programme for Government. The report will be a matter for the restored Assembly and Executive to consider.

March 2007

Northern Ireland (St Andrews Agreement) Act 2007 extended the timeframe for restoration of devolution to 10 May 2007.

Second Commencement Order was made, bringing into operation certain minor amendments and repeals following the commencement of Article 21.

May 2007

Devolution is restored to the north of Ireland.

December 2007

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane made a statement to the Assembly outlining her proposals for future transfer arrangements.  The proposals would not involve a state sponsored transfer test, but would allow a three year period of transitional tests, leading to an end to academic selection.

May 2008

Following discussion with stakeholders, specific proposals were submitted to the Executive by the Minister. They were not discussed.

November 2008

The last state sponsored (11+) transfer tests were sat by children (for Transfer 2009).

January 2009

A policy memorandum was submitted to the Executive by the Minister outlining legislation required by her proposals.  It was not discussed.

February 2009

Following unsuccessful attempts to have the Minister's proposals discussed, they were withdrawn.

June 2009

In the absence of a regulated system of post-primary transfer, guidance on policy (for Transfer 2010) was published, to which schools must "have regard".

July 2010

An open ended policy document on post-primary transfer was published by the Department, covering Transfer 2011 and beyond.

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