Educational underachievement: Dodgy stats from the NIO?

Since David Hanson announced his �33 milion spending programme for loyalist areas, the impression has been created in the media that educational underachievement is a problem almost exclusively affecting protestant areas. To support this assertion, the line has been spun that protestant wards accounted for 13 of the 15 most deprived in terms of educational underachievement. In fact, this does not square with the NIO’s own statistics, which reveal educational underachievement to be a much more evenly distributed problem, particularly in north and west Belfast. (Click on ‘MD 2005 Super Output Area level’ on the linked page to view the results of the deprivation study.)

  • Chris Donnelly

    Going by the 2001 ward based figures, 13 of the 20 educationally most deprived wards are protestant, 6 catholic and one almost evenly mixed. Whilst this does reflect a greater problem in protestant areas- (though by no means a monopoly), the reliance on ward based figures was generally deemed unreliable as, due to the geographic size of electoral wards, often pockets of considerable deprivation were not registering on the Deprivation study due to the ward also encompassing more affluent districts which increased the overall score and ranking of the ward overall.

    In May 2005, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) published its latest study locating deprivation here. The north of Ireland was divided into 890 districts for the purpose of the study, with wards sub-divided into SOAs (Super Output Areas) to maximise the accuracy of the study.

    These NOBLE deprivation figures for educational attainment reveal that, of the 20 most deprived areas educationally, 11 of the 20 are protestant and 9 are catholic. All 20 are in the greater Belfast area, with most located in north/ west Belfast.

  • Intelligence Insider

    Chris,

    Why must you continually refer to “The north of Ireland” when you quite clearly are not talking about Donegal?

    It’s a most annoying habit, that cetain partial commentators also seem to indulge in.

    If you are talking about Northern Ireland can you please refer to it as such. That is the name for this part of the United Kingdom that all countersignatories to the Belfast Agreement (such as sdlp and sf/ira) have recognised, by signing the same.

  • heck

    Chris

    I once referred to the republic of Ireland as the “free state” on a topic that was nothing to do will the name of the place, (that’s what it was referred to when I was a kid.) and was blasted for not calling it the republic.

    I though that anyone who gets rapped in the details of the name of a place has got to get a life! What ever the name we all know what each other is talking about. (Although I refer to “stroke city” as Derry I don’t get upset at someone who refers to it a London Derry.)

    To annoy these pedants I have decided if anyone starts on the “is it Britain/UK/ or Northern Ireland/Ulster” arguments I will refer to the “occupied 6 north eastern counties of Ireland”. That is a good description and everyone will know what I am talking about and it is as valid a term as any these people want to argue about.

    If more of us do this it may stop these silly arguments about the name of the place.

  • Pete Baker

    Any chance, chris, you could follow up on the claim and actually name the 13 of the 15 most deprived in terms of educational underachievement. Because the closest actual link, that I can find, refers to educational, skills and training.

    And that’s a 2001 measure.. not 2005?

    Ah.. an Update.

    “of the 20 most deprived areas educationally, 11 of the 20 are protestant and 9 are catholic”..

    So. Actually. It’s a fairly even, if sectarian, split, then..

  • Intelligence Insider

    heck,

    “I will refer to the “occupied 6 north eastern counties of Ireland”.”

    What do you mean occupied? Are you saying that there are some counties in the island of Ireland unoccupied? Using CDO I take it that you do not refer to being occupied as to being kept busy but instead to being filled with.

    One could probably assume that you mean that Northern Ireland is filled with/occupied by British citizens? Guess that may give the real meaning of the nationaist terror gangs “Brits out” strategy.

  • Alan

    So Chris, how exactly are the stats dodgy?

    As far as I can see you can pick and choose, but there is little difference in the outcome. Why stop at the top 20 SOA’s? No matter what way you look at it, you are left with a horrendous legacy of underachievement.

    You should also be aware that the reason you can consult the SOA’s is that community activists from the Shankill and East Belfast commissioned a research project in the early ’90’s that proved that serious deprivation was being hidden by ward stats. Some of us got serious grief from nationalist community workers accusing us of backing a sectarian horse at the time.

    I’ll finish by asking, what have the MP’s for N&W Belfast been doing about this through the years? It seems that one has been ignoring a sizeable part of his constituency, while the other is happy to champion the educational status quo.

    Of course maybe its sectarian to attack the sectarian parties – I never thought of that!

  • Ciaran Irvine

    I’ll finish by asking, what have the MP’s for N&W Belfast been doing about this through the years? It seems that one has been ignoring a sizeable part of his constituency, while the other is happy to champion the educational status quo.

    Though in fairness it’s been an article of faith in nationalist circles for decades now that we do the whole education thing and Themmuns don’t. To be honest this is the first time I’ve seen a suggestion that both communities were failing more-or-less equally. Very interesting if true. Shows the power of communal myth and “what everybody knows” – even if it’s comepletely wrong.

    Having said that, as a Derryman I welcome proof that those Belfast ones are a bit thick. 🙂

  • J Kelly

    Alan if we want to have a look at poverty and deprivation and alot blame to respective MP’s i think you will find that no party is unscatehed. A recent Save the Children report found that Creggan South in Derry was the worst in relation to child povery. Nearly 50% of the population of Derry City live within the top 10% of most deprived wards in the North and one party has been in control of the council since 1973, MP since 1983 are they and their leaders to blame for the state of Derry.

    I believe that poverty and deprivation has no barriers or political baggage and i think its a bit rich for anyone to try to play party politics with this issue.

  • Alan

    *I believe that poverty and deprivation has no barriers or political baggage and i think its a bit rich for anyone to try to play party politics with this issue.*

    I cant agree with that, because it is parties playing sectarian politics to the exclusion of the proverbial bread and butter politics that exacerbate the situation. Interesting that your assumption appears to be that Party politics has by definition nothing to do with economics. That seems tendentious in itself.

    If no-one plays party politics with poverty, then it gets ignored. Adding a sectarian tag distroys the solidarity that builds progress.

    *Shows the power of communal myth and “what everybody knows” – even if it’s comepletely wrong.*

    Yes, I remember having a *disputation* with a guy in the Roddy years ago, who claimed that working class students were in the majority at Universities because they were the majority of the population.

    It’s also symptomatic of the protestant communities belief that they were well off under Stormont. The sectarianising of the civil rights message by republicans and unionists distroyed any potential for solidarity.

  • john doheny

    The Save The Children Report funded through OFMDFM which was published this week also found the following with respect to child poverty.

    Section 6.9 The analysis indicated, however, a higher percentage of Catholic children in most

    deprived areas. In the Northern Ireland population, approximately half of children are

    Catholic. (49.8%) In the ‘most deprived wards’, however, Catholic children make up

    69.8% of the 0-15 years population. In Northern Ireland, Protestants make up 44.5%

    of the child (0-15 years) population while in the ‘most deprived wards’, Protestants

    make up 26.5% of the 0-15 years population.

  • willis

    First off Chris – Thanks for material a lot to work on.

    There are many measures of Educational underachievement. In some wards over 70% of adults have no qualifications. The preferred method in the table Chris linked to seemed to mainly be GNVQ/GCSE scores, another perfectly valid measure.

    I’m sure David Hanson didn’t want to say “You are getting money that we are going to take from the BEELB” but he should have.

  • Fair Deal

    Chris

    Read the Renewing communities document – there is planty in it for deprived nationalist communities too.

  • Yokel

    I’m going to show this thread to people I know in other countries because many posts really explain why things are why they are in this country in a nutshell.

    Oh we are worse off that you..oh no you aren’t, oh yes we are!

    Well done lads ad lasses I’m proud of you.

  • Shore Road Resident

    I’m just delighted to see Chris Donnolly trumpeting the fact that Catholics are stupid.
    That explains the SF vote then.

  • Animus

    It has confused me throughout the past several months that many unionist politicians have been clamouring to keep grammar schools despite clear evidence that Protestant children from poor families are clearly underachieving academically.

    As for poverty and politicians, anyone seen an anti-poverty strategy lying around? Oh, that’s right, they’re reworking it, including a change of name – anti-poverty sounds a bit negative.

  • fair_deal

    Animus

    “to keep grammar schools despite clear evidence that Protestant children from poor families are clearly underachieving academically. ”

    How’s about because the proposed system is even worse? Instead of academic selection you will have selection by postcode aka ability to buy expensive housing, won’t do much to help deprived kids.

    Also because the signs of problems appear long before people even get to the 11plus) its wrong to paint it as the core problem..

    The 11plus reforms have the right motivation at heart but the wrong cure.

  • Animus

    Fair_deal – You can’t have a decent debate on how to improve the situation by putting your hands over your ears and shouting “Let’s keep grammars!” which is what has happened. The only way to work out a better system is to engage with it. Also, this is going off on a tangent, but I think there are ways to set admissions criteria which are socially inclusive (for example, the one used by nursery schools re: receipt of benefits). Tony Gallagher has done some work on this. It doesn’t have to be a postcode lottery.

    And I certainly agree that the underlying problems are in place before age 11. But it ends up being chicken and egg. Education is the best way to improve life chances, whether formally or informally. The current system is failing working class kids – I fail to see how the reforms could do worse!

  • Crataegus

    The single most important issue in education is sorting out Primary Education in areas of low achievement. Rather than apportioning blame we simply need to get on with it.

    The problem as I see it is there is low levels of literacy in these communities and the children learn from their parents. In addition there are all sorts of social problems, low incomes, poor diet, lack of role models, lack of aspiration and encouragement etc. To tackle this you really need to be radical. You need to reduce the role of the parents or should I say supplement to be politically correct. You need breakfast clubs, homework clubs, lots of sports outings and school trips. It needs a lot of investment but there is no other way out of it for if you don’t child grows up, can’t read and write, has children, they grow up adopt parents lifestyle, and the circle goes on.

    I am not saying that all parents are bad or like this, or that they don’t care, they do, but if you have say 10 % – 20% in the community who may have good skills as plasterers etc but can’t read their children are at a massive disadvantage and then you have the problem families that really are dysfunctional. So if you have a school where a high percentage of children are from such backgrounds then it makes it difficult for everyone else to get the attention they need.

    Let’s be brutal about this we are turning out children from school who not only can’t read and write but some can’t even construct a coherent conversation. It is an appalling disgrace.

    With regards the proposals for reform of secondary level selection by post code means that children from these areas will be trapped in these areas. As I have said elsewhere I am not against streamed integrated comprehensives but the proposals being put forward have not been adequately thought through and fail to adequately tackle the main problems of funding three parallel systems and the underachievement at Primary level. If the people proposing these changes were employees of mine they would be job hunting by now. Utter disgrace and no excuse.

  • Follow the Money

    Whose funding has been and is being cut and whose is receiving a renewed priority?

    The September Loyalist riots showed how politics still operates here as it put funding/education of Loyalist areas sucessfully on the agenda for swift action.

    BTW I find it odd that some people always assume that improved nationalist education means anti-British attitudes – the most successful people from the top catholic grammar schools here are happy to and enjoy working in other UK cities. If more working class communities had these oppourtunities we would all be better off.

  • willis

    Instead of me banging on about past mistakes, let me ask a question re. the so called postcode lottery.

    Where are the good schools currently for children on the Shankill?

  • Crataegus

    Willis as far as I know the children from the Shankill probably go to the Boys and Girls Model which aren’t bad schools. If they pass the 11 plus they go wherever they want.

    Suppose under the new system nothing much changes for them or do they go to Inst? Or BRA or St Malachy’s? If BRA and St. Malachy’s it will mean a trip along the lower Antrim Road. Of course won’t be St Malachy’s thought it would be one of the closest as that’s in the separate maintained system so what we will get if BRA is pupils with different uniforms from Newlodge and Shankill crossing on way to school each morning.

    If you’re badly behind at 11 it really doesn’t matter which school you go to does it? In fact the better the school and the greater the ability of the pupils the more you are going to look like an idiot.

    Need to sort out the short comings in the Primary sector first, then get rid of the three systems and then you can do something coherent with the secondary system.

  • willis

    This is one reason I object to this parroting of the expression “post-code lottery”. Frankly there is little prospect of pushy parents buying up property around RBAI.