‘Battle A Day’ Case Study No.1- Academic Selection

“To Battle or not to Battle: that is the question.” I’m afraid I’m with Gerry and Peter on this one. Whilst Deputy First Minister-in-waiting Martin McGuinness may be hoping for a more cordial work relationship within the new Executive, I think it’s safe to assume that there will be some serious Executive table spats and public grandstanding in the time ahead, particularly given the plethora of issues already in the public domain to which Sinn Fein and the DUP (as mutual veto-holders) will be approaching from wholly opposite perspectives.

The fascinating thing from the point of view of the onlooker and participant is that, in this MADesque (mutually assured destruction) scenario, the only hope for a future not characterised by permanent gridlock is if the working relationships between the two largest parties improves beyond the wildest imaginations of most observers, seasoned or otherwise.
Compromise will rapidly have to become the norm in this new dispensation if there is to be any legislation passed through the Assembly.

Over the next week I will be opening several threads inviting views on how the two main parties are going to find common ground on the specific issues at hand.

The first topic is Academic Selection. Sinn Fein’s Catriona Ruane is destined for the hot seat in Education. But given the diametrically opposed views held by nationalist and unionist politicians over this issue, where will the common ground be found for a replacement to the Eleven Plus as the method of transfer? With the clock ticking towards the 2008 date for the ‘passing’ of the final Eleven Plus test, can an agreement be reached that will satisfy not only the political parties but also the school governors, teachers and parents?