Schools Will Commence On Time After Christmas

Peter Weir, Education Minister has assured there are no plans to delay the return to education after the Christmas break. He has suggested that this is simply an unfounded rumour. 

Mr Weir, who already has dismissed calls to close schools early in the run up to Christmas has said that maximising face to face teaching time was his primary priority. 

During Assembly question time, Peter Weir also rejected calls to scrap exams next year due to the ongoing effect and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He informed MLAs that in Northern Ireland, rumour wills always abound and there are no plans to delay the return to education in January. 

He wants to see as full an opportunity as possible for young people to have direct education. Calls for an extension of the school holidays have come amid widespread expectation that coronavirus infection rates will spike when the current circuit break lockdown ends on the 11th of December and when more mixing of families is permitted over the Christmas break period. 

Mr Weir, addressing the Assembly, said that cancelling of exams next year would put students at a disadvantage over students in the Republic of Ireland and Britain who would be taking exams. 

He questions where that would leave some students when it comes to university places and obtaining course spots. Mr Weir feels we have to think this through as to where it will actually leave students. 

He has also said he will not intervene with secondary schools to ditch academic selection. He has stressed that it was for schools to identify their entrance qualification and said that some that had decided to abandon the transfer test this year were instead using genetics, referencing criteria such as whether a sibling or parent attended previously. 

Mr Weir feels that whatever criticisms are there, from the point of view of academic selection, at the very least, it is on the basis of the individual merits of the applicant. He has said he will not be the minister who destroyed the grammar school system and he does not intend to force academic selection on anyone nor does he intend to take that right away from the schools. 

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