“strong on aspiration, but low on detail.”

The Sinn Féin Education spokesman, Barry McElduff, praises it as “visionary” – although the chairman of the Assembly’s Education Committee, Sammy Wilson, was quoted on Talkback as calling it a “plateful of platitudes with a spoonful of substance”. The Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, has made a statement in the Assembly – available for now at the SF websiteoutlining the future for post-primary education – “Next year will be the last year of the 11-plus. There will be no 11-plus in 2009.” – BBC report here Adds The Executive website catches up. And Mark Devenport notes some of the reaction in the Assembly. Update Additional BBC reportFrom the ministerial statement

“In my vision, young people will enjoy equal access to their post-14 educational pathway in a number of ways – as determined by the planning of education in their local areas. The options include:

Access within an 11-19 school

Transfer to an alternative 11-19 school

Access through an 11-19 school or a post 14 school which offers the Entitlement Framework in collaboration with other schools or in a learning community.

A local area may offer general provision in 11-14 schools, followed by specialism and diversity in 14 plus provision.

“An academic pathway will remain, accessed by intelligent, well-informed and mature election and available through modern organisational flexibility.”

And

“Following a period of consultation, I intend to bring forward regulations governing the operation of post-primary transfer for 2010, and for the subsequent interim period before the implementation of a 14+ system of election.

“There will be no 11+ Transfer Test in the 2009/10 school year.

“Pupils transferring to post-primary school in September 2010 will do so overwhelmingly on the basis of their preferences for schools – in much the same way that they choose their primary schools and pre-schools now. From 2010 the criteria will include:

Community, Geographical and Family criteria

“Many grammar schools have been admitting a wide ability range for some years now and will receive all their pupils in September 2010 without regard to academic assessment.

“Some grammar schools may need some time and assistance to adjust to the new system outlined today. In my forthcoming discussions with them I hope to be able to reach an agreed way forward to facilitate the transition.

“I would hope that all grammar schools would see a positive future for academic education in my vision for education. If any school, however, chooses to operate independent admissions arrangements that lie outside the new system of transfer, I want to make it clear that there is no obligation on my department to assist with funding.”

Update The Education minister has apparently clarified that the reference to “no obligation on my department to assist with funding” relates to the funding of any alternative selection procedure – such as the alternative proposed here.

More From the additional BBC report

Ms Ruane declined to give a straight answer when asked whether the new system would be subject to such a cross-community vote.

Some Ulster Unionists have expressed concern that by using “regulations” rather than a new law, the minister might avoid a cross-community vote.

But, DUP sources have told the BBC that because passing new regulations will require what is known as a “negative resolution” of the assembly, the plan can still be forced to a vote.

Sinn Fein sources acknowledge this, but counter that the 11-plus is gone and will not be coming back.

If the DUP tries to reintroduce academic selection to any new transfer criteria, Sinn Fein said nationalists would be able to use cross-community voting to stop such a move in its tracks.

, , , ,

  • Frank Sinistra

    I would also hope that no Primary School is allowed to put resources behind supporting any private selection procedure and that schools using an alternate unsanctioned procedure are excluded from any funding at all not just that associated with the selection procedure.

  • wild turkey

    The termination of academic selection at whatever age is to be welcomed. It is long overdue

    Initial impression.

    Forget the debate around evolution vs creationism. From the ministerial statement, and without substantive proposals on the way forward, it appears that CHAOS theory will be the theoretical underpinning in the design and delivery of post-primary education.

    My daughters P4 cooking club is making fudge this afternoon. Allegedly the recipe came from Rathgael House.

  • willowfield

    A disappointing statement, lacking detail and, in many ways, I feel, somewhat confused.

    I’m not opposed in principle to the idea of transfer at 14, as I accept the argument that 11 is too young an age for children to go through a selection process. At age 14 I believe most children are sufficiently mature to be able to have a meaningful input into decisions of vital importance about their education.

    But if transfer is to occur at 14, there still must be a role for academic selection, otherwise we are left with selection based on parental wealth, which is – quite clearly – a worse evil than academic selection.

    Although by age 14 many more children and parents will have concluded that it is not appropriate to pursue an academic education than at age 11, it will still be the case that most children and parents will wish to go to a grammar school, which means that grammar schools will be over-subscribed and thereby will require a means of selection. Selecting by proximity to the school will mean that children whose parents can afford to live in wealthy areas adjacent to grammar schools will be able to access those grammar places.

    Even worse is the prospect of grammar schools becoming independent private schools – something effectively endorsed by Ruane in her statement.

    There is no point in aspiring to an egalitarian system if there is going to be a parallel system running alongside to which access is gained by fees paid for by parental wealth.

    Finally, it is grossly hypocritical of Ruane to condemn division based on social class and/or educational ability while endorsing division based on religion – something which should be of particular concern to Northern Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    Some interesting comments, willowfield, but there was never going to be a perfect system. Although I, and all my siblings passed the 11+, I don’t think it can be justified at that early an age.

  • Ahem

    Right, time for all of the DUP lickspittles to show themselves in their true, fearless colours. This was the *one* thing you useless crowd of t*rds swore/whispered/cunningly assured/briefed etc etc. You made it as plain as a pikestaff that academic selection would be preserved because indiviudal ministerial unilateralism would be put a stop to post that whizz bang deal you cooked up at St Andrew’s. Okay then – what gives? Would even one gobsh*te from the press office care to saunter along and explain what gives? I’m quite prepared, on the non-basis of Ruane’s utterly typical form-free waffle, to believe that she *hasn’t* acheived anything, and all of this is just whistling to keep up the flagging morale of her own supporters. Fair enough, but just one thing – let’s have one of you dimwitted Paisleyite goons come along and explain why that’s the case.

  • agh

    nice post willowfield – I’ll 2nd that one…
    Fogive me if this is a stupid question – but do all nationalists want rid of grammer schools? I was under the impression that many of the top Schools in NI were catholic grammer schools – what are the opinions of the headmasters of these schools?

    I find it a little bizarre that the politions are split down the orange/green divide over this – is their position representative or their communities? I assume it is…

  • Frank Sinistra

    Ahem,

    Ever think of just saying please?

  • willowfield

    JOE CANUCK

    I agree 11 is too young – didn’t I make that clear?

    But at 14 there needs to be academic selection otherwise we have selection by parental wealth.

    I would say, though, that academic selection at 11 should continue until Ruane has worked out the detail of what exactly she is going to replace it with. Otherwise chaos ensues.

    AHEM

    I second your call for the DUP to explain how the St Andrews Agreement will enable them to stop Ruane abolishing the 11+.

  • Alan

    Long awaited, laterly long expected.

    Congratulations to the Minister.

    The Education system has long been broken and this is a start to the improvement programme, it’s all a part of the jigsaw with curriculum, a collegiate system, demographic changes and the establishment of the ESA.

    Now is the time for the Minister to put to one side the histrionics in the assembly and put the effort into supporting Head Teachers and Teachers to implement the changes. They are crying out for direction.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes you did , willowfield.
    But I think that, at age 14, young folks who think they have no academic abilities will be better able to resist their parents’, sometimes unrealistic, aspirations.
    When I went to grammar school, we had two kids in our year who had failed the 11+ but their parents paid for them to go privately. One was in my class and he suffered miserably for 2 years before his parents took him out. The other one ending up playing truant every day for two months before he was caught out.
    Not very pleasant for either of those boys.

  • Shawn

    Agh
    Im not from there but its seems more like one took up a position so the other just automatically took up the fundamentally oposite position

  • Ahem

    C’mon then – you lot were good enough at shouting in the past. Isn’t there even a single, solitary Paisleyite who’ll explain how this clear piece of would-be ministerial unilateralism *isn’t* actually going to happen?

  • m

    Craigavon got it rigt 38 years ago – you don’t hear that too often!

    at 11 go to junior high school

    at 14 complete a wide range of test/exams before deciding on GCSE topics

    those who do well and are academic go to the College (grammar)

    those who are not academic go to the Senior High School – (do GCSE appropriate to their ability) – those who wish to do A levels or HNC etc go to Upper Bann institute.

    at 18/19 those with the HNC/Alevels necessary go to University.

    – Sorted

    When will the rest of you catch up – its works, its fair, pupils like it, parents like, teachers like it – but its more expensive!

    Come on catriona go the whole hog implement the Dickson Plan across Northern Ireland.

  • joeCanuck

    No, Shawn, it isn’t as simple (or ugly) as that. I doubt that all SF or all DUP or the others are unified in their thoughts although I could be wrong.
    There is a lot of pride, justifiable, in the achievements of our grammar schools.
    It’s a question, to me, of whether or not it’s reasonable to put all that stress on children at age 11. And whether or not the exam is fair in terms of life choices. Lots of kids who might not be ready at 11 may be at 12 or 13.

  • agh

    would all sides agree to selection at 14?

    Or are the parties setting out their stalls first, fight for a few months, then agree for selection at 14 – everyone wins and the chuckle brothers can boast about how their 2 parties can work together?

    I predict a selection at 14 policy to be endorsed around late April.

  • willis

    Why academic selection?
    Why not academic and vocational selection?

    Why not give a kid half an hour to put a bike together and if they can’t send them to the Grammar School?

    Looks funny the other way around!

  • gram

    Joe>>There is a lot of pride, justifiable, in the achievements of our grammar schools.
    It’s a question, to me, of whether or not it’s reasonable to put all that stress on children at age 11. And whether or not the exam is fair in terms of life choices. Lots of kids who might not be ready at 11 may be at 12 or 13.<

  • Turgon

    Ahem,
    In fairness DUP commenters have been pretty thin on the ground around here recently; they may be trying to work out whether or not Ms. Ruane’s statement is a coporate one.

    I am no expert on education and try to stay out of the rights and wrongs of this debate.

    I do notice, however, that Ruane seems to have left herself a bit of “wriggle room”. Maybe it is just me but look at this:-

    “If any school, however, chooses to operate independent admissions arrangements that lie outside the new system of transfer, I want to make it clear that there is no obligation on my department to assist with funding.”

    Well she says there is no obligation. That is not the same thing as saying she will definitely not fund them.

  • Baudrillard

    I know one thing – Given the comments of our Culture Minister earlier in the week (demonstrating a complete ignorance of modern biology, cosmology, archaeology, history and theology) something had better change soon in our local education system!

  • jaffa

    I wonder what the criteria “community, geography, family” mean. If my state primary schooled child has to walk past an controlled ex-grammar to get to the nearest state ex-high and I think the “catholic” schools better does geography or “community” take precedence?

    The important thing is to keep putting positive choices in front of kids. My own education is scattered with enough distinctions and scrapes for me to believe that academic success is much more positively correlated with effort than ability. Effort’s a function of motivation and direction and motivation’s a function of the potential rewards and the expectation of success.

    If you want all kids to succeed you need to show them something relevant to aim at and there is more choice in the vocational stream. I’m a fan of the new, BTEC inspired, English diplomas. Before anyone decries their vocational bias it’s interesting that the Royal Society of Chemistry amongst others called for a Science Diploma as they saw that traditional GCSE/A level science teaching is much too theoretical for kids to see that there are actually many day to day science based jobs, rather than just using science as a stepping stone to a profession such as medecine or pharmacy.

    We should be putting all our kids in a vocational environment as soon as possible. If the very bookish want an atmosphere of deeper academic exploration than may be available in the higher streams of their Academy (rather than vocation breadth and facilities) let them apply at 14 to the Grammar where they can take something academically integrated but more theoretical and swotty like the Bac.

    Standar route should then be

    Primary => Academy (Junior School) => Academy (Senior School)

    or

    Primary => Academy (Junior School) => Grammar (from 14)

    This would also help strip out a bit of snobbery as the Academy would be on everyone’s CVs.

  • ulsterfan

    There will be changes no doubt.
    Will any of the protestant churches come together and request the same rights as their Catholic brethren in the control of schools to provide for a protestant ethos in those schools?
    When making changes we may as well go the whole way and not compromise.
    How this will affect the selection procedure at 14/15 years is not certain but is another factor to complicate matters.

  • jaffa

    “Why not give a kid half an hour to put a bike together and if they can’t send them to the Grammar School?

    Looks funny the other way around!”

    Well said Willis. Kids should not be allowed to study classics until they can bake a cake, paper a wall, configure a PC, drive a car, deliver CPR and balance their bank account.

  • willis

    Turgon/agh

    I think you are right. Actually Sammy Wilson gave it away today.

    He asked Ms Ruane: “Given the fact that there is going to be a gap between 2008 and 2011, how does she intend to give some assurance to school principals and to parents as to what will happen in that period?”

    So – principle accepted – work on the practicalities.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Ulsterfan,

    The Protestant ethos is already well represented in state schools via the almost unknown Transferors Representatives Council which is guaranteed Board of Governors places and membership on the ELBs. Separation of church and state in schooling is a cleverly constructed myth. Many state schools were transfered to the Dept of Education from Protestant church control 50/60/70s and the churches were then guaranteed permanent influence within those schools.

  • Animus

    Selection at 11 has patently failed, so a new system is necessary. I guess it still remains to be seen what that will be, as the waffle around this is nearly impenetrable – but what is so horribly wrong with streaming by ability within a school?

    The number of parents buying their intellectually mediocre children a place at a grammar school shows clearly that money, not merit, is more likely to secure a place for many kids who really don’t come up to the intellectual standard supposedly required. Why continue to prop up this outmoded system which is cheating many children?

  • Frank Sinistra

    Also of note is only a few Grammar Schools actually take pupils solely with good passes at 11+, most are facing under-subscription take those who have passes then top up with those who fail. It isn’t even really proper academic selection.

  • RSR

    intersting to read in it that if a school is over subscribed that it will be a postcode lottery is you get in or not, i.e the closer to the school you live the better the chance and also if you have brothers or sisters at it you also stand a better chance!

    No one could possibly say that this is anyway fairer than asking prospective pupils to sit an entrance exam in the case of too many applications.

    11 might be considered young but at least if you have been at a school for 3 years before starting on studies for GCSEs, which are probably one of the most important set of exams in life, you will be well settled and know your surroundings and so can just get on with the job in hand instead of wasting the first few vital months aclimatising to your new surroundings.

    The case for the retention of academic selection is just overwhelming. Once again we see someone who possibly has a personal grieveance with the system doing what pleases them and not what the public want.

  • Frank Sinistra

    Postcode lottery is a red herring it’s been happening at pre and primary level all along.

  • whoops

    Ruane herself today admitted that she hadn’t consulted with her Executive colleagues in advance of this statement – what she did was to drop them a letter 45 minutes before the announcement was made.

    However, she did admit that she would have to take the proposals to the Executive – at that point they can be tabled for a cross-community vote which won’t be forthcoming.

    Surely its practically negligent to bring forward proposals which have absolutely no hope of success – particularly on an issue like this. For all her platitudes she’s failed and doesn’t have a snowballs chance of getting the plassed.

  • Shawn

    I agree with Jaffa completely, academic success has more to do with effort than ability. So find out where the childs interests and therefor its efforts are likely to be channeled.

    If its vocational regardless of IQ then they should be allowed to pursue a vocational career

    and to make this decision you need to be more mature than 11, based on my personal expieriences I would say 14 is as close a uniform number as you can get. Any earlier and there is a great deal of immaturity any later and there is the danger of starting too late. No number will ever be universal but 14 seems to me to be a good starting point.

    Its too bad the academics attempt to run the education system and funnel everybody into the university stream. And have effectively denuded the skilled rades of their traditional respect

  • Porteydown

    WILLOFIELD

    “I second your call for the DUP to explain how the St Andrews Agreement will enable them to stop Ruane abolishing the 11+.”

    AFAICR, the DUP claimed to have secured academic selection, not the 11+ examination.

    I’ll add another recommendation for the Dickson Plan.

  • Frank Sinistra

    My reading of the legislation, corrections appreciated.

    A 7 day clock for a response to Ruane’s decision started today. The only action that can be taken is 30 members stating they want the Ministerial decision reviewed by the Executive Committee as it is a matter of public importance. If the Presiding Officer agrees the matter gets referred to the Executive Committee where there is no legislation on sanctions but a 7 day deadline for an outcome.

    There’d be no agreement in the Executive, the decision would proceed and a judicial review would find their is nothing in the law that allows the Executive to do anything beyond discussing a Ministerial decision.

    Robbo screwed up at St Andrews.

    And SF hit the back of the net for the first time in months. Well done Ruane.

  • whoops

    Porteydown
    Academic Selection doesn’t equal 11+ – there are many different forms.

    Just because Ruane stands up and says this is what she will bring forward doesn’t mean she can actually do it. She still has the thorny issue of cross-community consent (secured by the DUP) to get around.

    Had academic selection not been returned to the statute book (by the DUP) then she wouldn’t have needed that consent but actually unionists would have required SF’s consent to have it returned.

    The Dickson plan might actually be one possibility given that it does use selection within it. Its a shame Ruane didn’t actually come forward with it as a model – she might have had some chance of succeeding then.

  • Porteydown

    WHOOPS

    “Academic Selection doesn’t equal 11+ – there are many different forms.”

    Yes, that’s the point I was making – if the 11+ examination is gone, dead, kaput there won’t be many tears but I undertand that the DUP has a blocker ro prevent seletion being thrown-out in whatever form that takes.

    I agree with your comment about what the reaction had been if she had endorsed the Dickson plan but it appears to my innocnet reading that she is giving these “local areas” the opportunity to run with that model if they wish, allbeit with a question mark over the method of selection at 14.

  • hahahohoho

    Looks like the DUPer hacks have been fed their brief for the day. Go get’em lads…

  • Ahem

    To be fair, I don’t mind the Paisleyites being fed a line, still less them pushing it here – I’m just interested in hearing what the line is. So far it’s boiling down to a half way house between, she can’t do what she’s done, and, the small print allows every grammar school that wants to opt out of her proposed changes. It’s not much of a line, but then again, being opaque gibber, Ruane’s wasn’t much of a statement.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    “[i]The Protestant ethos is already well represented in state schools via the almost unknown Transferors Representatives Council which is guaranteed Board of Governors places and membership on the ELBs. Separation of church and state in schooling is a cleverly constructed myth. Many state schools were transfered to the Dept of Education from Protestant church control 50/60/70s and the churches were then guaranteed permanent influence within those schools. [/i]”

    Well, in my time at grammar school I think I seen a Protestant minister once and I believe it was due to a request by a pupil. My Chinese friends were under no obligation to practice the Protestant religion at school, they practiced their religion at home, like all other pupils at our State school. So you’re misleading the readers on this forum Frank Sinistra, by suggesting that ‘Separation of church and state in schooling is a cleverly constructed myth’

  • Frank Sinistra

    I’m misleading no-one, you have been presented wit hthe facts and choose to deny them and then make unfounded accusations agsinst me.

    The Board of Governors controls the school ethos. Protestant churches are guaranteed Board of Governors places in many state schools in additional to places on the Education and Library Boards. Catholic clergy or no other religions have these positions in state schools.

    Therefore the state system is under hidden influence by Protestant churches via the very shy Transferor Representatives Council.

    All true.

  • Porteydown

    hahahohoho

    “Looks like the DUPer hacks have been fed their brief for the day. Go get’em lads… ”

    Not sure if that was aimed at me but if it was, you’re well wide of the mark. I can assure you that I’m nobody’s hack.

  • Frank Sinistra

    UMH,

    Here’s a wee bit on how separate church and controlled schools are:

    http://www.iol.ie/~coieduc/schools.htm

    Not separate at all in many cases.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    When you said ‘The Protestant ethos is already well represented in state schools’ you make it sound as if all students are required to embrace the Protestant religion, that was my concern with your post.

    [i]”The Board of Governors controls the school ethos. Protestant churches are guaranteed Board of Governors places in many state schools in additional to places on the Education and Library Boards. Catholic clergy or no other religions have these positions in state schools.” [/i]

    Regarding the Board of Governors, is there a clause stating that Protestant ministers are to be the only religion represented?

    As for the faith of state schools, it’s totally free. A Pupil isn’t required to practice the Protestant religion if that said pupil is of a different religion.

  • Well, in my time at grammar school I think I seen a Protestant minister once

    Thank you for making my day. LOL!

  • Elvis parker

    ‘And SF hit the back of the net for the first time in months. Well done Ruane’
    Or set themselves up for an almighty fall.

  • Ulster’s my homeland

    [i]Here’s a wee bit on how separate church and controlled schools are:

    http://www.iol.ie/~coieduc/schools.htm

    Not separate at all in many cases.[/i]

    Frank Sinistra, that link only states the role the church of Ireland plays. I haven’t seen anything yet which states that only Protestant denominations are allowed to be represented in the board of Governors for state schools. Surely that’s what you should be looking for?

  • Frank Sinistra

    What? They admit the larger Protestant churches are guaranteed at least four from nine positions on the Board of Governors. There are no a similar guarantees for any other religions in the controlled sector.

    Simple. That isn’t separation of church and state that’s state recognition of Protestant influence in the controlled sector.

    And a myth well and truly busted.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi All,

    Wouldn’t it be wild to Find out that Katrina has applied for her own kid to attend a Grammar school in Newry?

  • The problem with this debate is that everyone cites the facts that support them and ignores the ones they don’t.

    The pro-comprehensive lobby cite out of date facts (like the one about us having more pupils leaving schools without qualifications than GB), ignore inconvenient facts (like we have by far the highest proportion of young people from poor backgrounds going to university in the British Isles), and talk shite about the stress of the 11+ (while ignoring the sheer hell of bullying that many academically minded kids go through in sink primary schools here and comps across the water). They also want to avoid the question that some schools will always be oversubscribed and that some system of selection will always be needed, even if it is lottery. In fact the sheer Whitney Houston-esque drivel of Frank Bunting and your woman on Nolan this morning, the delusion that just go comprehensive and everything will be great in the blink of an eye, would make me take my children out of their classes.

    On the other hand, the pro-grammar school lobby don’t want to deal with the reality of a collapsing school-age population which means that grammar schools, far from being some form of academic hothouse, actually take in a majority of Primary School leavers in some areas (e.g. Coleraine), deny that social inequities are an issue, in most cases maintain capitation fees and overpriced uniforms that are a barrier to children from poor homes, and have a complete dearth of ideas about how to provide a decent education for children who aren’t academically inclined.

    For all that I have slagged Catriona off in the past, the Dickson Plan seems to work well in Craigavon and it is a reasonable and realistic political compromise. I just have no confidence that Catriona will have any capacity to deliver this change without chaos. This must be her primary objective now.

    But everyone is different. I was amused at the comments that effort beats ability in the end. Not in my case; I hardly did homework, even at A-Level, and saw plenty of people working much harder for less reward. That isn’t where the problem is; the problem is that no system on offer is actually offering equal value to those whose talents lie in fields other than academic work, and I don’t actually see the pro-comprehensive lobby changing that; rather than equal esteem, they seem to want to make mini-Methodies for everyone.

  • Turgon

    I said above that I had no particular knowledge of education. One of the problems we all have in debates on teaching is that we have all been to school. Hence, there is a tendancy for people to think they know a fair bit about it. I went to three schools (two primary, one grammar); with hindsight they were fairly good, but not very good schools (especially the grammar though it had, and still holds, delusions of grandeur). I am not qualified to comment of what is best in educational terms.

    There does seem to be a problem that Northern Ireland seems to simultaneously turn out amongst the best A level results in the UK and also amongst the worst rates of no qualifications.

    Is one possible solution that with the falling birth rates and the fact that the grammar schools are now taking a bigger proportion of children that they (the grammars) could gobble up the secondaries and we could have a form of comprehensives by stealth. I in no way propose this as a solution merely pose a question as to whether or not this might happen by default.

    On the politics of the issue. I am left wondering whether or not there is a mechanism being attempted by which the two positions of the DUP and SF can be reconciled without too much loosing of face on either side.

    I have already noted that Ruane has not said she would definitely cut funding to grammars which declared UDI (I just think that is a really cool abbrevation from my childhood and no I am not a racist). Is it possible that the statement from Ruane is vague in order to allow for a comnpromise to be cobbled together?

    Could there be an alternative compromise. The grammars effectively take over the secondaries; stream children when they arrive and send some to the other part of the grammar school down the road which was once known as the secondary.

    This would allow Ruane to proclaim that selection had been abolished. The DUP could proclaim that academic sleection had been maintained.

    After all in the current arrangements not damaging the “love in” seems to be the most important factor and manifesto committments seem to be extremely elastic.

    Whether or not such a non decision is in the best interests of education or children is of course of no relevance. After all we have had multiple non decisions with little concern for any ill effects and of course it is not just the DUP and SF who get up to this, see McGimspey and health.

  • joeCanuck

    What’s the problem with the, thankfully fairly few, posters here who have a problem with people’s given or chosen name, and feel the need to change them to an English equivalent?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Joe,

    I take it you’re referring to me? I have no Irish language skills. Therefore I reckon I’d mess up the spelling. I also don’t know how to do the key strokes to get the letters with the accents. When I talk about Germany I don’t use the German word for exactly the same reason. Why would Katrina be any different? I suppose there’s probably also some notion that Katrina never uses Northern Ireland, etc in there also. BTW, I know that’s an infantile excuse.

  • Patrick

    What could Caitríona possibly know about education? This is like putting a Farmer in charge of Culture. Can they not match people up with subjects they might likely have some knowledge of? A few of the MLAs do have good University degrees whereby she doesnt appear to have any qualifications.

  • Hogan

    Where are all those supporters who told those of us who were pro-academic selection that pupil-profiling was the answer and we wouldn’t end up with selection by postcode?

    I know the pressure parents can put teachers under. My mum was a teacher for 30 years.

    Well done lads, the educationalists at DENI have sold us a pup.
    Notice i didn’t say ‘teachers’? the last time most of the ‘experts’ at rathgael house saw a classroom they were behind the desks doing their Friday spelling tests.

    Why do you think New Labour ministers were so intent on following through on Arty McGuinness’s grand plan?

    Simple. Because they knew profiling was unworkable and it would collapse, leaving us with the same system they have, local comprehensive who’s ultimate criteria will be geography.

    This means they never have to revisit the difficult option of parents in their own constituencies wanting to bring back grammar schools now that the only example of where it works properly in the UK is abolished.

    I passed my 11+. My 4 cousins didn’t.

    They all took up trades, Joiner, Plumber, Welder, Electrican and all of them wouldn’t get out of bed for what i earn (and have told me so!).

    Granted they are grafters and good luck to them. Would it have been suitable for them to be in my class when i wanted to learn about Julius Caeser or Atomic theory? No!

    Anyone who lives near a school that has no sink estates near-by just put atleast £75,000 in the bank with this decision.

    I accept that NI has skewed its values due to the system, people value university degrees far too much. We need our doctors, lawyers and accountants, but we also need our plumbers, joiners and care-assistants.

    Its horses for courses people.

    The fact no nationalist politicans had the balls to say this at the time sickens me.

  • joeCanuck

    Yes Congal, I was referring to you. I just happen to think it’s disrespectful. Cut and paste works for me. And don’t worry about the fadas. You can, if you want, do them though by holding down the Right hand side Alt button while typing the vowel.

    Cheers.

  • joeCanuck

    And yes, Congal, I think it is childish for S.F. members to refuse to say N.I. “Here” and “There” is such a joke.

  • gram

    sammy:The pro-comprehensive lobby cite out of date facts (like the one about us having more pupils leaving schools without qualifications than GB), ignore inconvenient facts (like we have by far the highest proportion of young people from poor backgrounds going to university in the British Isles)<

  • Tuning into Good Morning Ulster this morning and hearing them discuss the new proposal I was just shocked that any minister would take any firm position on anything, especially on such a contentious issue as Academic Selection and the eleven plus. Bravo, Mme Ruaine, i knew I always liked her.

  • ulsterfan

    Sitting beside Ruaine did anyone else think G Adams looked so tired and old.

  • joeCanuck

    Why shouldn’t he look so tired and old. He is.
    Time for pasture I should think. His work is done, for good or bad.

    I await the rants from all 3 sides. (SF Republicans, Unionists, and disillusioned former SF Republicans).

  • timelord

    This represents a missed opportunity for Education Minister. The question remains… What then?

  • Turgon

    joe,
    I am very aware of the man not ball rule here. However, I agree he does look aged before his time. I wonder if the very grey beard is part of the problem.

  • joeCanuck

    Interesting point, Turgon. I am usually bearded (grey too alas but I’m basically lazy in the mornings since I retired) but I shave it off every couple of months and people usually tell me how well I look.

  • Bluebeard

    Re the last few comments –
    I had thought that myself when watching the news at six.
    To make matters worse I happened to see “folks on the hill” later on, with its “sketch” on a forlorn and forgotten Gerry. Whilst amusing I found it slightly sad. In any other situation the best remedy would be to head of to the politicians rest home, with a seat in the House of Lords.

  • nuttal

    “Community, Geographical and Family criteria”

    Excuse my ignorance, but when the criteria are outlined as above what exactly does “community” mean as opposed to “geographical”.

    Does it mean that schools will be able to select on the basis of which community you belong to?

  • Nevin

    “Community, Geographical and Family criteria”

    “Sectarian, Geographical and Family criteria”?

  • jaffa

    One point the minister made was that we have 50,000 spare desks and that this presents an opportunity for restructuring.

    Does this capacity have much to do with the fact that we have at least the following varieties of school;

    Girls Catholic High
    Boys Catholic High
    Co-ed Catholic High
    Girls Catholic Grammar
    Boys Catholic Grammar
    Co-ed Catholic Grammar
    Girls Prod High
    Boys Prod High
    Co-ed Prod High
    Girls Prod Grammar
    Boys Prod Grammar
    Co-ed Prod Grammar

    We could keep all these or we could just have lots of Lagan Colleges, each with general education to 14 and a Grammar and a Technical stream thereafter, with alternative campuses / blocks if needed.

    Anyway, the important distiction is in the curriculum. Provided the technical types study vocational diplomas and the academics something more like the international Bac (or for that matter, the international Bac) there shouldn’t be any problem with accusations of “one size fits all” education. The problem with traditional comprehensive education is trying to use the same curriculum for everyone.

    Is it a sign of Sinn Fein’s lack of committment to integration that “community” remains a criteria avaliable to the school? Surely if “prods” (or those assigned to the prod “community” fancy a traditional catholic or irish medium education schools shouldn’t be sending them away (and visa versa if “catholics” want a more secular education).

    Practical example. Suppose I live in the bourgeois and cheerfully mixed district of west Bangor and my nearest primary is St Comgall’s. Do I stand in line behind all the Catholics, respecting the entitlement of people to give their kids a sense of historical and community continuity through a church education or do I say sod that, my kids play with your kids and demand priority based on geography?

  • mickeyb

    Are there any comments on here from teachers? What percentage of children are we cheating? My experience is that those higher performing children are evident several years prior to “2 one hour exams.” The percentage of children who do not achieve their full potential is negligible. Likewise those children who “surprise” with an unexpected higher grade than anticipated is even more negligible. Realistically, whether 11 or 14, what difference does those 3 years make. This new admissions process is to tackle a problem that does not exist. At least the current selection process does not further complicate the dilemma by adding socio-economic and post code criteria. The end result will be the more emotional prospect from a pupils point of view in that they may now have to move school twice post-primary leaving friends behind. Do we go down the route of pupil profiles leaving pupils fate in the hands of potentially biased teaching staff (negligible) The reality remains that education should have a meritocracy. Those deserving pupils have a right to an education that will stretch and cahllenge. Will they receive this in a junior high school? Doubtful

  • joeCanuck

    mickeyb,

    Makes you wonder how countries like Canada with no selection manage to thrive in today’s world, producing professionals, artists and business people etc.

  • jaffa

    I passed my 11+.

    At 10 my parents were told I had a 13 year old’s reading age. God knows what that means. An premature interest in porn perhaps. On account of this I was denied access to anything hands on or mechanical and sent to a school which had no computer studies, no business studies and no cooking.

    My professional and private life makes more use of these than the Latin and rote learnt organic Chemistry my head was stuffed with instead.

    The fact that the 11+ successfully separates children who can pass the 11+ from children who cannot pass the 11+ does not make it a relevant or useful signpost for the rest of life’s choices.

    It may have suited a 1947 post-war Labour 5 year planner but it doesn’t suit a modern liberal economy trying to develop a sense of exploration and innovation in all trades and professions.

    We need people to have to confidence to wander into one profession, out again and into another. We need accountants who used to be soldiers and joiners who become facilities managers, and cooks who take up marketing. We need people to understand that starting out on a vocational route does not preclude a later “academic” career. We’re failing kids by telling them it does, by pointing them in two different directions at 11.

    Northern Ireland should take a look at more successful and innovative economies before congratualting itself on one measure of success (working class university access) that it may or may not have a relative lead in, and which may or may not be due to the 11+.

  • Shawn

    In my part of Canada we have something similar to 11+ but its taken at 14. But even this very comprehensive series of tests does not force you into a purely academic or vocational stream. regardless of the results it is up to the student and the parents what areas they choose to study. And as it is based on accumulation of course credits to graduate you can switch streams as you desire and frankly it seems a very successful formula. And it allows for students to come out with a much more rounded education.

    I cant say as I understand the grammar school system in the north but seperating people based on what their educational prospects are seems very classest to me and not really beneficial to either group to seperate them

  • jaffa

    “I cant say as I understand the grammar school system in the north but seperating people based on what their educational prospects are seems very classest to me and not really beneficial to either group to seperate them”

    That’s the point. We’re obsessed by difference and separating goats from sheep. It’s an unholy marriage of catholic exceptionalism / church control freakery and chippy prod calvinism.

    Note that the Shinner minister has attacked the prods’ sheep and goats mentality but has not the bottle to address the Catholic Church’s monopoly on the education of “their” community.

    A prod minister trying to deal with excess capacity might have called for merging of church and state schools (into the state schools of course) but would have maintained the separation of wheat from the chaff.

  • willowfield

    Shawn

    I cant say as I understand the grammar school system in the north but seperating [sic] people based on what their educational prospects are seems very classest [sic] to me and not really beneficial to either group to seperate [sic] them

    What do you think about separating people based on their religion?

  • jaffa

    See!

    Thanks Willowfield

  • Shawn

    Willowfield
    religious education is almost unknown in western Canada

    In my City of 45,000 there is one small catholic school p1 to p8 of about 100 students and 1 non-denominational of about the same size and years after p8 there are so few pupils for either school that they merge into a single school.
    So While I think the whole religion thing you have going on over there is silly, I have no real expierience at it so am unable to comment. In Canada the only people whjo ask you or care about your religion are the ones who are trying to convert you over to theirs and we generally politely but firmly close our doors in their faces.

    The other thing is there is no way to determine what religion somebody is by where they live or by what their last name is becaus they are as likely be a Harrasamchuck as a Boyd or an O’casey

  • Shawn

    Err i should have said the of the schools are state run and completely non-religious