The Craigavon two-tier system, commonly called the Dickson Plan, was established 28 years ago because many people recognised that making crucial decisions about a child's future at 10 was inappropriate.

The central features of the system are:

selection occurs at 14, an age when both child and parent are more fully aware of the child's aptitudes and abilities
selection takes place based on continuous assessment including summative examinations on the entire range of curricular subjects.

The existence of statutory assessment at 14 (Key Stage 3) and much government discussion regarding a coherent 14-19 curriculum serve to emphasise the educational importance given to assessment and selection at 14+.