Education: Ruane likely to go for choices at 14…

THE Education Minister looks likely to be heading for a Dickson Plan-type substitute for the current transfer arrangements. This would mean key educational decisions being taken at 14, when children are more informed about where they want to go. It seems likely unions and other parties can buy into this, although the grammar school lobby will oppose such plans. Lisa Smyth reports: On possible replacements for the 11-plus, Caitriona Ruane has spoken of her desire to see Ulster pupils make choices for future career and employment opportunities at 14. Such a system could see pupils attending their closest school until the age of 14 when they would select what school to attend according to whether they wish to follow a more academic or vocational pathway. (I think it’s been Alliance policy for years, but then they’re used to their policies being nicked…!)

  • rubin

    I think 14 is a more reasonable age for selection

    Isn’t there a similar structure already operating around the Portadown area?

  • Nevin

    rubin, Portadown is in the Craigavon/Dickson Plan area.

  • Nevin

    BG, this would also present an opportunity to go for ‘integrated’ schools but I suspect the Churches will lobby for a continuance of ‘faith based’ schools.

  • barnshee

    So its common entrance at 11 for the Grammars and selection at 14 for all?
    What a waste of space

  • Godfrey

    I would be very surprised if this was the final outcome. She clearly hasn’t thought through the costs of such a fundamental change.

    This is very much Ruane’s first play of hand. It will be for the assembly and the Executive to thrash this out from here.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    There really is only one church lobbying for ‘faith based’ schooling and that’s the Roman Catholic church. In general, all the other churches are happy sending their children to state schools, which are not Protestant as the media likes to portray, but they are infact a mixture of religions.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Though the majority of state schools have guaranteed board of governor places gauranteed to Protestant clergy through the Transferors Representatives Council and they also get places on the ELB’s. A Protestant ethos guaranteed but safely hidden and roundly denied.

    Try finding anything out about the Transferors Representatives Council, you’ll be hard pressed. The non-religious state sector myth is just a very complex deception.

  • bob wilson

    And the costs of doing this?
    Grandstanding rubbish by Ruane

  • Portydown

    Look out soon for an influential report (chaired by Dr Wilfred Mulryne) extolling the virtues of the Dickson Plan. There is many merits in this solution.

  • Portydown

    .. one of which is not checking grammar before posting 🙂

    .. are many merits …

  • ulsterfan

    This is a compromise and will probably work.
    It is a good opportunity to take education into the control of the secular state.
    Church clergy will have access to their “flock” but should not have a management /controlling
    responsibility.

  • Having gone through the 11+ and Dickson, I can say that Dickson is probably best – but it is still predicated on selection, academic streaming at 13 effectively so I can’t see the radical egalitarians accepting it.

  • The Raven

    Godfrey wrote: “This is very much Ruane’s first play of hand. It will be for the assembly and the Executive to thrash this out from here.”

    ….until Peter says “No. You’re not allowed”.

    And then there will be a discreet cough from Martin, at which point Peter will look up and say:

    “Oh. Sorry. It’s you, Cait…sorry…thought you were that other woman…”

  • Frank Sinistra

    This is getting weirder. Are SDLP supporters really trying to run the line: we are a weak but honest party in a collective executive, SF and the DUP rule the roost? Unless they are able to change the structures or turn the tables they are surely advertising their own permanent impotency?

  • Alex S

    In the Dickson plan pupils have to pass exams to move to the academic school, in the Tele it seemed to suggest the pupil / parents would decide, unworkable?

  • Alex S,

    So it’s the Dickson plan minus the academic streaming aka not the Dickson plan.

  • Garibaldy

    So we throw the majority of children on the educational scrapheap at 14 instead of 11? Hooray. Or we could stream within properly funded, secular comprehensives.

  • Garibadly,

    Would those be the comprehensives which so comprehensively fail?

  • Alex S

    So we throw the majority of children on the educational scrapheap at 14 instead of 11? Hooray. Or we could stream within properly funded, secular comprehensives.

    Posted by Garibaldy on Oct 19, 2007 @ 09:36 PM

    At least Garibaldy is being honest in describing the proposed schools as being comprehensives, why is everyone else so reluctant, the English experience perhaps?

  • 0b101010

    Whatever utopian fudge they pass to pull everyone down to the same sub-average plod, the grammar schools will likely continue doing what they have always done. We’ll simply have replaced academic selection with financial selection. Fantastic. A gold star for all!

    As many that transferred will no doubt know, there already exists the ability to transfer at 16 on the basis of (gosh) GCSE results. All in all, what the local government is really admitting is the general state system is so awful that they can’t provide satisfactory secondary education.

  • Garibaldy

    David,

    I said properly funded. Which English schools aren’t. Nor are the majority of non-grammar schools in NI.

  • willis

    Why these constant debates about the English experience? Why not a system that does work?

  • IJP

    Gonzo

    Yes, that looks like Alliance policy alright.

    Now we know what George Osborne felt like!

  • barnshee

    “As many that transferred will no doubt know, there already exists the ability to transfer at 16 on the basis of (gosh) GCSE results”

    As at least some of the transferred will no doubt know there already exists the ability to transfer AT THE END OF ANY YEAR should the pupil show the necessary ability (its called the review)

  • Reader

    Garibaldy: I said properly funded. Which English schools aren’t. Nor are the majority of non-grammar schools in NI.
    What is the difference in funding levels between grammar and non-grammar schools?

  • feckit

    When I was 11 I wanted to be a pilot, a bioligist and an astronaut. In that order.
    At 14 I wanted to be a stripclub owner, a gangster and a strip club owning ganster. In that order. I can’t see why selection is bad at 11 and good at 14. Either adopt a comprehensive system or test the little darlings at 11.

  • Sean

    LOL
    Feckit
    When I was 11 I wanted to be a heavy equipment operator and when I was tested at 14 I wanted to be an accountant. When I actually graduated I became a heavy equipment operator and now I practically am an accountant at the place I used to be an equipment operator, its funny how things work out. But the streaming I took at 14 after the testing stood me in better stead even as an equipment operator then what I would have recieved if i had chosen at 11

    I think 14 is a better age because it allows a bit more mental maturity though god knows I dont think they are very mature lol

  • Whatever is agreed it cannot be based upon academic selection. The existing 11+ or transfer process is about the 10th or 11th type of test we
    have used here in N Ireland since 1947, and all of them have been abandoned
    because they failed to do what their advocates claimed they would do – deliver
    equality of access to second level and eventually tertiary level education. In
    recent times the Burns report in 2000-2001 based on substantive research which
    was carried out during the period1998-2000, recommended the abolition of the
    transfer test based on the research evidence. The subsequent consultation which
    took place in advance of the Costello report, confirmed the view that there
    was no public confidence in the existing transfer process which was seen as
    fundamentally flawed. This refl ected the research which identified the fact that
    whether a pupil gets a top grade or the bottom grade can depend on the answers
    to a mere handful of questions. N. Ireland has a very high proportion of people aged 16-65 with severe literacy and numeracy problems with approximately one in four adults on the lowest level of prose literacy and more than half defi ned as functionally illiterate.
    This is intrinsically linked to life chances as we know that people out of work in
    N Ireland were almost twice as likely as employed people to be on the lowest
    literacy level; and conversely those in work were three times more likely to be
    on one of the two highest literacy levels than people out of work. Low levels
    of skills are also found among Northern Ireland adults. If our selective education
    has been the envy of the world since it was introduced in 1948, we would not
    expect 24% of the working age population to have no qualifi cations, far worse
    than the 15% in England and Scotland and 17% in Wales (Labour Force
    Survey 2003)
    It is clear that the current highly selective education system with its academic
    focus is not fit for purpose for a 21st century N Ireland in which we need a mix of
    well-educated people who are also highly skilled people, if our economy is going
    to compete on the world stage. We cannot continue to be consumers of a system
    which elevates academic achievement, but must become creators of a system
    which supports the development of well-rounded young people who will take their
    place in the shared future towards which we are headed.

  • Reader

    michael wardlow: The subsequent consultation which took place in advance of the Costello report, confirmed the view that there was no public confidence in the existing transfer process which was seen as fundamentally flawed.
    But let’s not run ahead of ourselves either. The consultation showed there was not support for the 11+, but that there *was* support for the principle of selection.
    michael wardlow: …out of work…lowest literacy levels…in work…highest literacy levels…
    Isn’t that sort of thing going to be the case even without selection, and even with a hypothetically wonderful education system? Some people are better able to fit the white collar and service sector niches in the modern economy, than other people are. Should jobs be handed out by lottery?

  • Reader sounds a bit like the old hymn “the rich man in his castle the poor man at his gate God made them high and lowly and honoured their estate” Can education not provide opportunities to do different things or does Reader have some insight into human genetics which sees us as pre-programmed as white collar and blue collar from birth. Can we really pick out a Doctor from plasterer at 11 or even 14? What is certain, however is that grammar schools enshrine rather than integrate social divisions.