The other education divide

The Chief Executive of NICIE, Michael Wardlow, has called for a moratorium on building single sex schools. 31% of post-primary pupils are taught in a single-sex environment.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I was surprised to learn from the article that only 93 of over 1,240 schools remain single-sex in the north. I’m assuming that the majority of these are CCMS or Catholic grammars, but I stand to be corrected on that.

    It would appear to me that the Catholic sector is well down the road of phasing out most single sex schools through a variety of proposed amalgamations, relocations and closures.

    I’m a bit surprised that Michael Wardlow, of NICIE, has decided to speak out on this one. Of course he is perfectly entitled to do so as someone centrally involved in education.

    But this may be a case of Wardlow seeking to deflect pressure upon the Integrated sector to pull back its proposals for new schools at a time when the existing schools have so many empty desks.

    My own opinion is that single sex schools should be phased out, though I can understand sensitivities will exist around certain schools.

  • Nevin

    Wardlow didn’t limit himself to single-sex schools:

    [i]Michael Wardlow, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, has questioned the need for division by academic, religion or gender in schools. ….

    “If schools are to be places where young people can engage with other young people with whom they will live, work and perhaps even rule the country, why do we not ensure that those schools are microcosms of that society?” he added.[/i]

  • memorystick

    “I was surprised to learn from the article that only 93 of over 1,240 schools remain single-sex in the north. I’m assuming that the majority of these are CCMS or Catholic grammars, but I stand to be corrected on that”

    I would never have assumed that as I went to a single sex state school, but then I was very surprised at how few schools are single sex and that anyone would want to stop single sex schools from existing.

  • Setanta

    I really do tire of the self righteous arrogance from the integrated education lobby. Why do they assume that their model is automatically better than other models – this was an attack on all other models of education except theirs.

    They need to get off the horse they rode in on and accept the right of parents to choose and the fact that the vast majority of parents for various reasons do not choose integrated education.

  • T.Ruth

    The need for an economic rationalisation of the state school system needs no defence.All state schools should be open to all,regardless of gender,creed,colour,ability or whatever. What poses now as the Integrated Education Model is scratching the surface and has a limited potential to contribute to change in our societal attitudes.
    Those who wish to have their own separate or exclusive school system should fund it themselves.
    We also need to develop a new dynamic,empowering curriculum and stamp out the illiteracy that is seriously disadvantaging so many young people in our society.

  • willis

    T.Ruth

    Well that has laid down the gauntlet! It really is very hard to argue with your point. One question though.

    What do you mean by.

    “What poses now as the Integrated Education Model is scratching the surface and has a limited potential to contribute to change in our societal attitudes”?

    I’m not being difficult, just curious.

  • Henry94

    T. Ruth

    Those who wish to have their own separate or exclusive school system should fund it themselves.

    But continue to pay through their taxes for everybody else too?

    The state should not run schools at all but simnply act as a regualtor and fund students on an equal basis. Parents coming together and the free market should decide what kinds of schools exist.

    The Integrated sector are becomming more aggresssive in their demands to be considered the ideal solution which should be imposed on everybody by decree or by economic sanction.

    Those who support parental choice should see them as a dangerous enemy unless they accept the principle of choice.

  • T.Ruth

    Willis/Henry 94
    Like the Education system the State Health system should be equally available to all. Those who want a more exclusive service should pay for that. That is my view.It should be the same principle for all State services.What we have in the Education system at present in Northern Ireland is not choice but variety.
    Equality requires that each state funded school should be open to all.
    As for the Integrated sector.It is well meaning but will never expand beyond a limited number of areas-it will take one thousand years at present rates of development to achieve its objective.
    It also has unintended and unfortunate consequences for neighbouring schools which are deprived of a normal intake and become vulnerable as a result.Opening a new school in an area close to an existing state school is a wasteful duplication of resources.There is a possibility that opening an integrated school in an area where one religious group is in a declining number will see the rate of that decline accelerate. One religious group moves out and we get an integrated school and a segregated community. Often integrated schools depend on bringing children in by bus from other areas.State schools do not have this facility. It is impossible to get an additional bus route established in an effort to attract pupils and yet it is a standard facility for Integrated schools.There are many other ways in which integrated schools are advantaged in relation to the state sector.
    To achieve genuinely integrated education we need government intervention and a definite political decision to make all state supported schools integrated,co-educational and open to all. This might best be done by starting with the 11-14 age group and directing them to fully integrated junior high schools where the curriculum would be relevant to the 21st. century and empower children at 14 to make informed choices as to their 15-19 educational destination.
    Within a new system the economies made by reorganisation might enable us to tackle the plight of those children who presently are not benefitting as they should from their educational experience. A huge section of our society is functionally illiterate.The answers to many of our will not be provided by schools alone but the road to future change has to start there.

  • willis

    Henry

    Surely choice is the point. Many parents want integrated education but cannot have it because there are not enough places so they are forced to send their children to segregated schools.

    “A dangerous enemy” – because they want choice?

  • unionist

    It appears anyone with 12 kids and a portacabin can open an integrated school.

    Mr Wardlow is perhaps concerned that the bully boy tactics he employs are starting to get on people’s nerves.

  • Setanta

    willis,

    Where is the proof that there aren’t enough integrated places to go round – we are often told that this by the integrated education lobby but lets see some idependent proof, but one of their own surveys. There is choice in the education system – if there was a flood of people wanting integrated education then would this have not been facilitated by now?

    As for the ‘dangerous enemy’ – my point is that this is how they portray anyone who does not follow their line.

    As a sideline point, I also know a few people who send their kids to an integrated school in Belfast because of teacher – pupil ratios and extra support for Special Needs and for no other reason.

  • T.Ruth

    Setanta
    I believe many parents send their children to an integrated school when they fail to get into a grammar school because they perceive it to carry less of a social stigma than a high school.They make a virtue out of necessity to protect their off-spring from those they regard as socially inferior.The greatest evil in the 11 plus is the social division it creates in our society-almost more serious in its impact than religious division.
    Mr.Wardlow cannot argue that girls schools should go without supporting a move to abolish R.C.schools and exclusive grammar schools.
    As an aside I often wonder if so many Roman Catholics being enrolled in State grammar schools discriminates against Protestant children and make it easier for a RC pupil to get into a RCatholic Grammar school.,
    T.Ruth

  • Henry94

    willis

    The Chief Executive of NICIE, Michael Wardlow, has called for a moratorium on building single sex schools.

    That is denying choice. You can’t claim to be for choice when your view is that other choices should be restricted to facilitate your own.

    T.Ruth

    What your are advocating is a socialist education system with the state running every school. It is essentially an ideological position rather than an educational one. I don’t think anyone believes the state would be good at running schools but there are many who think they should run them anyway so we can give every child an equally poor education.

  • T.Ruth

    Henry94
    I have no problem with private ideological groups or religious orders having their own private school system.The state should not however foot their bills. We cannot as a community afford the plethora of provision that currently masquerades as an educational system.We cannot afford to educate different religious groups separately without accepting the consequences that has for a divided society.We cannot afford as a community a system which discourages those children who come from deprived areas into a school system that labels them as early as their second year in primary school as academic failures.We cannot afford to continue with a curriculum that is not relevant to the needs of young people.
    T.Ruth