Selection Shift?

Both the DUP and UUP education spokespersons are claiming a government shift on the future role of academic selection in the education system. It seems that government may remove the ban on academic selection from the draft legislation. This would allow academic selection to have some role in allocation of school places.

  • The Dog

    This is clever. The DUP and UUP lose the debate on the 11+ – yes it has been a failure, especially for working class protestant communitities – and claim to be delighted that pupil profiles will include an assessment of academic ability.

    My guess is now that they have realised that scrapping the 11+ won’t lead to the destruction of grammar schools – they are happy and need to find a slight of hand to cover the climb down.

  • Stephen Copeland

    Is this one of the DUP’s 100 secret side-deals?

  • smirkingpercy

    The dog

    Neither party were in favour of the 11+ but were in favour of academic selection. However silly Sammy should have kept his mouth shut, all parties have had meetings with the new ministers and all were told the same and told to keep quiet about it. Guess the DUPs can’t resist trying to claim victories that were not their own. Idiots.

  • confused

    Did either the DUP or UUP ‘claim’ any victories? From my reading I do not see either party even claiming that academic selection will remain – just that it remains a possibility. Given the positions of the UUP and DUP at Westminster however I would have thought that one party was in a much better position to influence any future decisions than the other.

  • Hmm, looks like Maria Eagle wants to make sure this order gets through the Lords. I wonder why.

  • Rachel

    Both DUP and UUP seem to be suggesting that academic selection can remain – although neither have put their necks on the line. There have been hints from both parties in recent weeks and Maria Eagle refused to rule it out in an interview she gave last week.

  • smirkingpercy

    Smirking Sammy claims he works the hardest on education and boasts about meetings with CCEA and the minister – all parties have that particular privilege, best thing would be to do what he’s good at – shed the clothes and frollick with Paisleys daughters.


    DUP Education spokesperson Sammy Wilson MP MLA has revealed today that he believes academic selection may remain within the Government’s post primary education reforms here. Mr Wilson was speaking after a series of meetings with the Government and a meeting today with Gavin Boyd of the CCEA. Mr Wilson said,

    “This afternoon I met with Gavin Boyd of CCEA about the curriculum and pupil profile, seeking assurances that the emphasis will be on the pupil profile. It is still the view of the DUP that there has to be a means by which schools could match pupils depending on the education provision they gave, and therefore the pupil profile had to have a strong content of independent assessment which could reflect the educational and academic ability of each youngster.

    Whilst the profiles are still being piloted I was pleased to be given assurances that three measures in the profile which will be included objectively and independently judged a child’s educational and academic ability.

    Although CCEA have no input as to how the profile will be used, it should still be noted that in their response to the Burns Report CCEA made it clear that they believed the receiving school should have access to a child’s assessment, and the assurances given today would certainly indicate that a school could use pupil profiles as a basis for selecting pupils.

    In meetings with the Education Minister last week I has emphasised the need for pupil profiles to include this information and I am pleased the body preparing the profile has included this in the pilot.

    It is now up to the Minister to ensure schools have the ability to use this tool that CCEA has given them for selecting pupils. The continuation of change in the order and development of pupil profiles will result in the retention of our traditional system of academic selection as desired by two thirds of the population.

    The DUP continue to be the Party fighting hardest for education.”

    Mr Wilson has met with the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State and will talk again with the Education Minister later this week to ensure that Northern Ireland retains its first class education system”

  • confused

    not sure i get your point here?

  • Carson’s Cat

    “not sure i get your point here?”

    That would be because there isn’t one. Its UUP rule number 756, if you cant actually deal in the facts resort to some petty personal comment.

    I’m not sure what the Wilson ‘jumping the gun’ issue is – it would seem that he has gone no more public than the UUP have. Either that or the DUP actually do know more than the Ulster Unionists and they’re trying to get in and claim some of the plaudits for doing nothing.

  • jj

    I have read stuff about the DUP being engaged in meetings with the PM, SoS and various Ministers for some months now – have the UUP done the same? As for the DUP jumping the gun, McNarrys et al were ‘grilling’ Ms Eagle yeaterday according to last nights Telegraph!

  • overandout

    UUP, SDLP, Sinn Fein and Alliance have indeed all done in the same in terms of grilling the minister whatever sneaking Sammy may have you believe. Like a minister would just meet one part!

  • confused

    Where in Sammy’s statement does it state that he is the only one to have met with the Minister?

  • Pluto

    On a completely unrelated note, are there any survivors from Debate Central here?

  • Alan

    You’ll note that neither McNarry or Wilson say anything more than MAY still be saved.

    It’s gone folks and it ain’t coming back.

    I understand that there was some discussion over whether schools might see a pupil profile in advance, but at no stage was it to form part of their decision. The first pupil to be denied a place on the basis of the profiles would lead to a court challenge – and the schools would lose big time.

    Time to move on from this senseless support for non-existant academic selection – remember there are grammar schools taking B’s, C’s and D’s today. Some of the grammar lobby want them closed down, rather than accept the need for broadly based enrolement !

  • Stephen Copeland


    … are there any survivors from Debate Central here?

    Our Great Leader is himself a ‘survivor’ of Debate Central, though maybe he prefers to forget those distant days!

    And there are a few others. They know who the are.

  • Alan

    send your kids to a comprehensive if you like, that’s your right and I’ll happily support you in exercising it, but don’t impose your dogma on me or the majority of NI parents who wish to retain academic selection.

    Your “it’s gone folks and it ain’t coming back” line makes you sound a little nervous. Who are you trying to convince? Yourself perhaps?

  • John East Belfast

    I just wish there was a whole lot more honesty about this issue.

    It has got nothing to do with Academic Selection and everything to do with Social Selection.

    Basically middle class families want to do everything in their power to make sure their kids dont go to the same school as the “Spides” and “Millies” from the Council Estate. Lets be honest

    Therefore 25% get what they want and the vast majority are then dragged into the gutter with the tiny minority of trouble makers who make it impossible to teach anyone.

    Meanwhile half the 25% piss off to GB universities and the majority of those dont return leaving NI plc with an undeducated mass on benefits of some sort. Meanwhile industry has to fill jobs with Eastern Europeans.

    Protestants are particularly disadvantaged because so many Catholics are happy to send their “A” kids to Methody and BRA etc thus enabling a greater number of Catholics overall to get such an education.

    My wife has taught for 20 years in the NI special needs sector and Secondary sector in some of the toughest schools in Belfast on both the Shankill and the Falls.
    She told me she wouldnt send a dog to some of those schools – the majority of the kids are fine but there is a nasty minority that doesnt exist in the Grammar sector. The teachers count the days down to end of June – the dramma on Channel 4 about Teachers in an English comp is very accurate.

    There is no reason why academic selection cannot occur within a school – some kids good at maths and some good at languages etc etc – my son goes to Campbell – a comprehensive in every sense of the word – but for those who can afford it !
    ie I am not paying for a Grammar education but a Comprehensive one ! What does that say ? – what are the real motives ?

    Discipline is the issue – ie you need somewhere the bad kids can be sent for special attention and only returned if they behave.

    Anyhow this country’s obsession with academic results as being what education is all about is daft anyway.

    Academic selection may have given a leg up to people lke myself 30 years ago but it is past its sell by date.

  • JEB

    “Academic selection may have given a leg up to people lke myself 30 years ago”

    So you want to pull the ladder up?

  • John East Belfast


    I am just saying the world has changed – especially the world of work.

    The manual jobs for the 75% are not there anymore – they have left these shores for good.

    At the same time society morals etc have considerably broken down.
    We have a whole new underclass and a rise in one parent and disfunctional parent families.

    In my wife’s shool a colleague had two parents into see her last week and one was the worse for drink.

    All selection does is keep such families away from a privileged few but lumps them in with 65% of the rest of the population.
    What long term damage do you think is done to those 65% by going into a school with some of these people.

    When 4% of kids make it to the Grammar stream on the Shankill Road what does that tell you about our system here?

    It is disadvantaging the vast majority of kids here and that is not good for NI.

    I am simply making the observation taht a system introduced in the middle of the 20th Century is possibly out of date with requirements of today.

    We need to change – there are too many unemployable people in this country without the basic skills for modern work.

  • JEB

    “We have a whole new underclass and a rise in one parent and disfunctional parent families”

    If ending academic selection means my daughter gets “educated” alongside those you describe above why on earth would I support it?

  • Pete Baker

    “We need to change – there are too many unemployable people in this country without the basic skills for modern work.”

    The main problem I have with the suggested, new and improved, system is that, while parents are encouraged to use the pupil profiles to select the most appropriate school for their child, schools are explicitly forbidden to use those same profiles to assess whether that child is indeed suited to the school.

    It’s a system which depends, as with far too many New Labour project, on individuals putting to one side their own self-interest in order for it to work.

    That runs counter to the experience of human existence ever since there’s been enough people gathered together to call this a society.

  • John East Belfast


    I am not criticising people’s motives – they will do what’s best for their children.

    It’s just I want everyone to be honest in the debate.

    ie everyone goes on about academic selection when the true motivation is social selection. Because people are not debating the true issues then they could get the wrong answers.

    I am not against academic selection in shools – those good at sciences go into the top science stream etc etc – I just cannot see any good reason why it has to be at school level.

    I believe that all kids have something to offer – whether it is maths, music, dramma or sport – a good school should bring out the best in every pupil and the school should be well balanced.

    Telling 75% of our population that they are a failure at 11 is a recipe for trouble later.

    I believe in comprehensive education with League Tables scoring every area of a shool’s performance – not just academic results but sporting, charitable, attendance, teacher absetteeism as well.

    There would be financial bonuses for best school’s, HeadMasters and teachers in all these areas

    Meanwhile the trouble makers would be routed out and dealt with in special units and returned only when they can conform.

    Academic selection is a cop out which lets the grammar school sector get it easy at the expense of the vast majority of pupils here and the long term success of the country.

  • Garibaldy

    I agree with John EB on the possibility of streaming within schools, and that this would have positive social effects, and on the social snobbery lying at the basis of all this. The lack of discipline in schools reflects broader cultural problems, particularly an attitude of contempt for all authority produced in many modern societies, but especially in NI for obvious reasons.

  • willis


    “ie everyone goes on about academic selection when the true motivation is social selection. Because people are not debating the true issues then they could get the wrong answers.”

    I agree.

    There is a fundamental urge within Calvinism/Presbyterianism/Fundamentalism to have a selection of “sheep and goats”.

    Once it was Catholics who were the goats

    Now Bob, David and Sammy have been reduced to cutting off Thick Prods. Oh, hang on, we need them in the Marching Season. Wind them up, set them loose, spit on them the rest of the year!

  • Garibaldy


    Snobbery cuts across religious divides. Although what is interesting is that the Catholic Bishop Donal Mc Keown, former head of St Malachy’s in Belfast, has moved beyond the grammar school debate. For him, the debate is about the future of religious versus secular schooling. Many see this debate as lost. I noted the SDLP put out a strong statement against the possibility of maintaining selection, but they’ll uphold religious education.

  • pondersomething

    This incredibly crazy notion just occurred to me – hey, why don’t we just educate all our kids together in the same school?

    There they can be streamed by subject to their hearts content, but why not all our kids together in the same school??

    Ah but it’s gone 2am and i’ve had a few and that’s all mad dangerous crypto-communist there what i’ve just said

    so not to worry now – y’all just go back to debatin’ the configurations of the delineations of the walls we’re erecting between our future childrens in this wee place…

  • Alan

    *send your kids to a comprehensive if you like, that’s your right and I’ll happily support you in exercising it, but don’t impose your dogma on me or the majority of NI parents who wish to retain academic selection.*

    So, it’s a case of don’t impose those poor kids on my kids, is it?

    The system has nothing to do with academic selection, and, as has rightly been said earlier in this thread, everything to do with social selection.

    What have the pro-11+ people come up with as an alternative to the 11+ – a non-functioning, computerised system that will favour those with home access to a computer. You might as well suggest that schools should include parental bank balances ( or property portfolios ? ) as part of their entrance criteria.

    Let kids go to the same school, band them according to ability in key subjects and support teachers in dealing with the trouble-makers. Surely that is better than condemning this battered and bruised society to continuing record levels of educational deprivation.

  • Alan

    I leave the last word to the Minister.

    “Simply by speaking to me doesn’t mean I have changed the position of the government”.

    Obviously a clash of cultures.

  • Reader

    Alan: You might as well suggest that schools should include parental bank balances ( or property portfolios ? ) as part of their entrance criteria.
    And all you are offering is postcode selection.

  • Garibaldy

    Not if all schools are properly funded, there won’t be a postcode lottery.

  • Reader

    Garibaldy: Not if all schools are properly funded, there won’t be a postcode lottery.
    What? Schools with a poorer catchment area already get extra funding. But that isn’t what the Postcode lottery means anyway. What it means is that the middle classes buy up the houses near to the best schools. So without selection of some sort you will get considerably less social justice.

  • Garibaldy

    The grammar schools effectively get more money, and top things up with parental contributions.

    The situation in England is complicated by the prevalence of public schools, which isn’t really a problem here.

  • Garibaldy

    Never finished the previous post. In NI, the pressure of the parents would be such to ensure that the catastrophe of many English comprehensives wouldn’t be repeated

  • Julian Robertson

    The postcode lottery has already started. House prices in E Belfast shooting up already – is the presence of Bloomfield, Strathearn, Campbell, Grosvenor a coincidence? – so how are kids from outside these leafy suburbs going to get a look in if they want to go to one of these schools? Which is best measure – aptitude or size of mortgage? Just asking.

  • Alan

    The postcode lottery already exists. As I’ve said before, two primary schools have provided close to 50% of Methody’s intake – add to that the prep school and it is clear that we are talking about.

    In terms of East Belfast house prices, the real story is not in the leafy suburbs, but the rocketting prices of the inner city terraces, as people now look for value in areas they would have avoided before. Leafy East Belfast has been on a par with Malone prices for at least 20 years. You can’t simply equate house price rises to coincidental changes in Education.

    Also, you know that schools need not use proximity as a determining factor at all, so why complain about it !

    Many schools already use a random alphabetical system to make the decision. And such decisions are made all the time – how does Inst decide between one Grade C and the next Grade C ?