By David Crawford CHILDREN at Catholic primary schools in Middleton, Lancashire, have been put through their eleven-plus examinations twice this year, because the results they attained the first time were too good. Two Church of England schools and a County school were also re-tested.
The examinations were originally held on March 4-6, but within a month of this date, the Lancashire County Council Education Authorities ordered a second examination, this time, with outside invigilators. On the first occasion, the schools' own teachers acted as supervisors.
For both the Catholic Schools concerned, St. Peter's, in Kirksway, and St. Mary's, in Langley, this was the second "re-test" in three years. In both cases, the second examination has merely confirmed the results of the first.
The Chief Education Officer of Lancashire County Council, Mr. Percy Lord, has issued a statement in which he says: "The results in some schools at Middleton but not necessarily all those re-testedwere so abnormal that there was no option but to re-test the children to make sure that the first results were valid." He later announced : " The results of the second test have proved that the first results were valid."
Fr. Joseph Knight, parish priest of the Church of St. Thomas More. Alkrington, Middleton. told me this week that he thought results for the schools in Middleton must have differed substantially from a graph of standard results for the county. "We were not surprised that the children did well," he said. "Our teachers are very good. I cannot help feeling." he continued, "that it is time that some of the schools that don't do so well are re-tested, if anomalies occur."
The second testing ordered by the county has aroused intense feeling in Middleton. One of the teachers at St. Peter's School said: '"We feel that the whole business could be looked upon as a slur on our integrity and honesty as teachers." Nine of the teachers have sent a complaint to the National Union of Teachers.
The Borough of Middleton Education Department declined to comment—in fact, they even refused to tell me the date of the original examination and referred all queries to the County Education Authority, 30 miles away at Preston.
Questions were asked at Thursday night's meeting with the Middleton Borough Education Committee, but the matter was deferred until next week's meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Committee. There are a number of Catholic sympathisers on the Council, and Fr. Knight is hoping that early discussions can be held to prevent further trials for Middleton's Catholic population.