The Effects Of The Selective System Of Secondary Education In Northern Ireland. Main Report.

Tony Gallagher, Alan Smith

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This is the main report of research commissioned by the Department of Education for Northern Ireland into the effects of academic selection at age 11. The authors were asked to examine evidence on four key areas. The first of these concerned the patterns of achievement at GCSE for pupils and how this was mediated by selection. The second issue concerned the GCSE achievement of pupils of similar measured ability in grammar and secondary schools. The remaining two areas were to examine evidence on the impact of selection on pupils’ post-school destinations and the impact on their motivation and attitudes.Following the publication of the research evidence on the effects of the selective system of secondary education in Northern Ireland (Gallagher and Smith, 2000; Department of Education, 2000a; 2000b), the Minister of Education established a Post Primary review Body to bring forward recommendations on the future organization of schools. The Review Body Report, usually known as the Burns Report, was published in 2001 (Post Primary Review Body, 2001). Its main recommendations were that:· The use of the 11+ transfer tests should cease and the system of academic selection in the transfer from primary to post-primary school should end.· A system of formative assessment, through a Pupil Profile, should be established to provide real educational information to teachers, parents and pupils.· Post primary schools should be organized into collaborative networks of diverse schools called Collegiates.When the Burns Report was published a series of seminars was organized by the Department for educational interests. These seminars were held between October and December, 2001 as part of a consultation process on the report’s recommendations. In early 2002 the Department of Education announced the formal mechanisms for the consultation which ran until June 2002. The report on the consultation was published by the Department of Education in October 2002 (Department of Education, 2002a; 2002b), shortly before the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive were suspended. When the report was published the Minister of Education announced that the 11+ tests would ceaseto be used from 2005 onwards ( This decision was confirmed by the direct rule Minister with responsibility for Education( In 2001, the Burns Report on Post Primary Education, the decision was taken to abolish the examination. The subsequent Costello Report advocated an end to all selection in Northern Ireland's schooling. A timeline is available at
Original languageEnglish
PublisherDepartment of Education
Number of pages49
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Sept 2000

Bibliographical note

ISBN 1 897592 56 6


  • academic selection northern ireland


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