Omagh Christian Brothers’ Grammar School and the town’s Loreto Grammar, who plan to phase out transfer selection entirely by 2020, have quietly admitted to a real fear that children from East Tyrone will try to infiltrate their halls of learning.
And in a move to counter the threat, both schools are currently trialling accent and behavioural tests to weed out any 11-year old within 15 miles of Lough Neagh, a move which does not go against the Catholic church’s stance on the selection process.
An anonymous member of the Board of Governors from one of these prestigious schools admitted they are on red alert:
“We had an Open Night recently and the amount of parents saying ‘ghost oh‘ at the Science experiments was alarming to say the least. And a lot of them were wearing turned-up jeans which were far too short in the leg which is a real sign they’re east of the Ballygawley roundabout people.”
A leaked document shows how prospective pupils will be shown a picture of a woman, asked what they see and if they shout ‘blade‘ they’ll be asked to leave the premises immediately. Pupils will also be asked to recite the whole of Me an’ me Da (Livin’ in Drumlister) by The ‘Bard of Tyrone’, the Rev. W. F. Marshall. Again, any 11-year old who doesn’t rhyme it off within a minute will not receive a place in either school.
This is not the first time a Tyrone school has resorted to extreme entrance measures. In 1986, St Patrick’s Boys’ Academy in Dungannon refused entry to a First Year when he arrived carrying a John Lynch (Castlederg) lunchbox, or ‘lynchbox’ as the young boy called it as he took the bus back to Omagh later that morning.