P7 CHILDREN at Augher CPS have been very busy settling back into life at school, enjoying getting back into routine, seeing their friends and off course working hard at their schoolwork.
Children got a huge shock last week when their teacher and parents shared the news that the AQE exam had been put back to January, after discussing how they felt and wondering why no one asked their opinions or what they thought, Principal and teacher, Andrea Sawyers their class teacher suggested they write a letter or email expressing their opinions and thought on the matter.
The P7 class then began looking at persuasive letter writing, using the opportunity to widen their knowledge of the persuasive genre and its key features. Some of the children then decided to pursue the issue by writing to the education minister Peter Weir and are also planning to send their letters to local politicians.
Mrs Sawyers commented, “We were all very shocked to hear the news of the court decision.
“I was surprised how forcefully some of the children felt about it and the unfairness that they were never asked and devasted about having to work over Christmas holidays.
“As a school we continued online zoom transfer club throughout May and June which was open to everyone in the class and some others continued to work hard over the summer and complete practice papers independently. Some were fortunate to have home support, other parents were busy working throughout lockdown or felt they weren’t equipped to support their child, so together we developed a partnership to support our children and their families who wanted to sit the AQE.
“At Augher, we believe in promoting real life learning opportunities, so this was a fantastic meaningful task to complete. I also believe these children are learning invaluable life lessons in connection to the role of politicians, even aspects of the legal system and most importantly that they have a voice which they can exercise and use when they feel strongly about an issue.”
Hannah Creddin from P7 said, "I couldn’t believe the news, I was shocked and didn’t really understand what a court decision meant, but my teacher helped explain to me.
“I have worked really hard since Easter when we began transfer work, at the start there were so many things I didn’t know but my mum, sister and fabulous teachers Mrs Irvine and Mrs Sawyers helped me with everything from did and done to volume which was tricky but know I find easy.
“I still think it’s really unfair that we are going to have to keep working to the end of January, we were looking forward to enjoying our holidays and all the great school activities around Christmas.”
Another P7 pupil George Carey wrote to the minister: “I know as Minister of Education during quarantine you had to make many huge decisions, I understand that the transfer test isn’t your decision but as you are the most important person I know about I am writing to ask you to try and bring back the original date.
“If you want I am happy to write to the judge too and let him know what myself and many of my classmates think about this decision.”
This has been a tremendously difficult time for schools as pupils settle back into a very different environment from what they knew before COVID-19, schools have embraced the changes and strive to ensure pupils are happy and settled.
The argument over academic selection has been at the centre of education for decades, this current situation is unprecedented but at the heart of the whole situation is the lives and wellbeing of so many children who have a voice which needs to be heard and they need opportunity to express their opinions.