“The minister believes she can build a consensus of support for her proposals..”

Ken Reid’s UTV News report below contains some scenes from the confrontation at the Assembly’s Education Committee meeting, as commented on by Mick here, but beyond that confrontation there is a declaration from the Education minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane, that she will not be proposing the ‘Craigavon model’ because it includes academic selection at 14. The Minister also declares that her proposals do not include any selection at any age. Which may be noteworthy for the Finance minister.. and not just for any suggested cost-neutralness. The Belfast Telegraph’s Education Correspondent, Kathryn Torney, gives an eye-witness report. And in related news, the Belfast Telegraph also reports that the UUP’s Basil McCrea has said that if the Minister does not disclose information on her confidential meetings about plans to replace the 11-plus with a system of transfer at the age of 14, or does not agree to meet the Committee in private session, then he “will press for a vote of no confidence to be taken by the Assembly and would hope to obtain the committee’s support for this.”

It’s also worth noting that the confrontation was almost guaranteed by build-up to the meeting, as described by Committee Chair, the DUP’s Sammy Wilson.

After her statement to the Assembly on December 11 2007 there was even greater confusion on the issue.

The committee posed 30 questions to her for clarification but no answers came.

We requested a meeting and eventually, through the intervention of the two Sinn Fein members of the committee, were granted a one hour meeting.

All members had hoped for a constructive engagement instead we got a farce which left everyone apart from the Sinn Fein members fuming.

The members were given a paper at the start of the meeting with her responses to the questions posed to her, leaving them no time to study it.

Those question, set by the Committee for the minister to answer, had initially been responded to with a “not possible” from the minister.

Meanwhile, as reported here..

A spokesman for the Minister said: “As the Minister has made clear – the last Transfer Test will take place in 2008. That is irreversible.

“In terms of the full range of the proposals for the future of post-primary education outlined, there will be a legislative basis for these proposals as appropriate (the Minister stated her intention, for instance, to bring forward admissions criteria regulations).

“This legislative basis will, of course, be established by proper consultative and legislative procedures.”

He added: “The minister believes she can build a consensus of support for her proposals and we are working to achieve that.”

, , ,

  • ulsterfan

    If she is opposed to academic selection as a matter of principle surely she must ban GCSE O and A levels and what about the various tests at primary level.
    The Dixon plan is a good compromise but not good enough for the Minister.
    She has not clearly set out in detail the education model for our children and is lacking in support.
    She will not last and calls for her resignation are not too far away.

  • I think they’re just about to start…

    Ruane must go!

    There we are 🙂

    Seriously though…

    WORST. MINISTER. EVER.

  • BonarLaw

    What’s Irish for “muppet”?

  • URQUHART

    That’s some coat.

  • I think they’re just about to start…

    Ruane must go!

    There we are 🙂

    Seriously though…

    WORST. MINISTER. EVER.

    I think Ruane is the best of a bad lot and people here are allowing their anti republicanism cloud their judgement.

    My contender for worst minister ever? Edwin Poots, the fox in the Irish language hen house. A Minister who is allowing his political prejudices and biases dominate his policy agenda to the detriment of all the people of NI. He’s a one man wrecking ball….

  • lib2016

    What the experts and the great majority of her supporters want is our children and grand-chilren to all have an equal start. This sounds like the minister is serious about moving towards that goal. Sooner or later the point is going to get through to loyalists that this is the best minister for everybody, themselves and their children included.

  • bob wilson

    “A Minister who is allowing … political prejudices and biases dominate … policy agenda to the detriment of all the people of NI.

    Sounds like Ruane – McGuinness held a household survey that was heavily subscribed to and academic selection had cross community support – in terms of social class, religion, teachers, parents etc.
    Over 2/3 backed academic selection.

  • Rooney is a tremendous minister if the only issue in your thick skull is the Irish Language.

  • BonarLaw

    “My contender for worst minister ever? Edwin Poots, the fox in the Irish language hen house”

    Let’s see… Edwin delivers on a pledge to block an ILA whilst Ms Ruane cannot deliver her prefered post primary model. As I said elsewhere in the politics of double veto the status quo has the advantage.

    BTW one of the many reasons I dislike the current Education Minister is her ability to keep Edwin off the bottom in the Executive performance table.

  • kensei

    “Let’s see… Edwin delivers on a pledge to block an ILA whilst Ms Ruane cannot deliver her prefered post primary model. As I said elsewhere in the politics of double veto the status quo has the advantage.”

    Only if you consider the chaos that will be caused in education because of the limbo as “status quo”.

  • Paul P

    The education of children is no comparison to an ILA.

    The sooner a vote of no confidence can be held the better.

  • Alex S

    I watched her performance, she seems to be out of her depth, he policy seems to be to hope it will be ‘alright on the night’, as for her decision to give part of her answer to DUP MLA Storey in Irish, an attempt to waste time or just bad manners?

  • marty

    an attempt to waste time or just bad manners?
    Like all of our local politicians, they default to tribal politics as it’s all they can do. Speaking Gaelic to the DUP is not done out of love for the language.

    Devolved government here is turning out to be a big hole in the ground to pour cash into without any return. Surely direct rule was better than this?

  • esmereldavillalobos

    Well at least all our kids can be dragged down to mediocrity together now. Like it or not, selection is a part of life and if it’s not at 11 or 14 or 16 or 18 it’ll be at the university or industry interview where a crap education will kill any chance of said child getting a good career and prospects. The shining light of this place for generations has been it’s education and the opportunities for children of all socio-economic backgrounds to find success with a mixture of ability and hard graft – I know, I’m one of those working class kids made good.

    All kids come the same way into this world: naked, crying and with their whole life in front of them – an equal start. What happens to them after that is not down to selection. The minister cannot tell me that with good parenting and good schools and teachers as we have at present that selection or the lack thereof will affect a child’s life forever. Success in education is not down to selection, it is in tailoring the education to meet the child’s needs and abilities whether academic, vocational or learning a trade. The one size fits all approach does no-one any good.

    Anyway, is a human rights campaigner from Mayo, who lives in Louth and educates her children outside the mainstream (which is her perfect right to do by the way) really the best qualified person to enforce a grossly unpopular and unnecessary change on the 99% who do have their kids in mainstream education whether secondary or grammar? Diane Abbott springs to mind – comprehensive for all but only ’cause mine can opt out.

    I can’t think of many occasions where I’ve agreed with anything Bonar Law & beano had to say but here goes…

    FOR GOD’S SAKE, GO!

  • “My contender for worst minister ever? Edwin Poots”

    Sorry, but I’m with Bonar Law on this one. Edwin’s extremely fortunate to have Ruane keeping him away from that particular accolade. Probably only by a nose, but she definitely wins hands down.

  • “Probably only by a nose, but she definitely wins hands down.”

    Sorry. It’s Friday evening and I’ve had a tough week!

  • BonarLaw

    “Only if you consider the chaos that will be caused in education because of the limbo as “status quo”.”

    What chaos? As things stand the only thing to change will be who funds the form of academic selection favoured by the grammar schools. Compare that to the unplanned, uncosted and unworkable wish list from Ms Ruane. She has foolishly nailed her colours to an doomed policy and will be back in Columbia (what chances Westminster after this?) or wherever before the end of the current mandate.

    BTW she is so crap she has even taken the spotlight of IPJ. Provodom must be sooo happy.

  • feismother

    I’ve been trying to find words to describe how dreadful she is but couldn’t. Somebody texted in to Good Morning Ulster saying Ruane “hadn’t the wit to be embarrassed” by her behaviour. I thought that quite apt.

    My own children are all through school now but I’m a governor in the secondary sector and we’re all sitting clueless as to what’s going to happen.

  • Twinbrook

    is it any wonder this site is less and less relevant to REAL people in the REAL world when they see nothing but anti-nationalist innuendo from those especially the sdlp press office here who moan and rant and will blame everyone but themselves on their unelectability……

    just look at how many of these “news-stories” have been turned by a group of nameless, faceless alter-egos on this site into attack after attack on SF and all those who voted for them…

    we`ll win again, don`t know where don`t know when but I`ll know we`ll win again some sunny day>>>

  • Belfast Paul

    When Jeffrey Donaldson says that your record and behaviour is abysmal and he is correct in saying that then it shows what a fool you are.

    Why does Catriona Ruane, when under-pressure, always challenge her attackers for not liking change? This is a constant mantra.

    I think if you were to do a poll in republican areas the majority would say she is weak and a bit of an incoherent rambler.

    Twinbrook, if you call that shambles of an assembly as a sign of SF success then what do u think failure is?

  • joeCanuck

    There’s a general lack of respect all round.
    Not sure how, or if, that can be restored (or created if it never did exist).
    Nobody seems to be listening either.

    I know, I know; it’s none of my business.

  • Northsider

    I’m a nationalist from west Belfast, and anyone on here who ever read my (admittedly not-too-recent) posts will attest to this.

    I say, she’s a disgrace. What’s more, she’s a pampered, moneyed, blow-in disgrace, taking the job of a local person who would surely comport themselves much better than this.

    She’s an embarrassment.

    If Sinn Fein are serious about this government lark, and I hope they are, then it’s time to show the ruthlessness of successful political parties and get rid.

    I never though I’d ever say this (well, back in March at least) but Margaret Ritchie knocks her into a cocked hat.

    Finally, (in the interests of balance :)) Edwin Poots (somebody told me he is a creationist, if he isn’t, then I’m sorry for posting this and I hope Slugger mods can remove – but I am pretty sure he is) is a another mound of dreck masquerading a minister.

    Ministers, despite all the knee-jek loathing we have of them as being top of the politico-pile, are meant to demand and work for some sort of respect.

    These two clowns are badly out of their depth and are letting us all down.

  • Reader

    lib2016: What the experts and the great majority of her supporters want is our children and grand-chilren to all have an equal start.
    So how does that work in your family? Would you refuse to help your children and other children with their maths and spellings because some other children have innumerate or illiterate parents? Will you let your children mitch off school on the median number of occasions per year because some parents don’t give a shit? Will you strip your home of books to match the situation in many other houses?
    Or would you keep doing all of what I expect you actually do, but accept the worst teacher in the school as compensation for the home environment?
    No? Then how *can* children ‘all have an equal start’? What we should hope for at least is that children are not held back by the state.

  • sms

    there’s no doubt in my mind that there is an ideological tug-o- war going on between the minister and the unionists but the minister seems to be already half way towards her objective of phasing out the 11 plus.2008 is its last gasp and there is nothing there to take its place.The Catholic Church which controls over 50% of the schools here has accepted the ministers decision while many protestant grammar schools are already accepting lower grade pupils because of falling rolls so the way things are going and even if the 11 plus continued all but a handful of schools were going to become all ability anyway.All the bluster from the Unionist politicians seems to be just case of whistling past the graveyard.Does anyone here believe that come 2009 that children will not be accommodated in secondary level schools and that the vast majority of them will not be in the school of their choice?

  • missfitz

    I have no fish to fry on this issue, and I think I am being completely objective to say that was a truly cringe worthy performance.

    I am being serious when I say that her manner of dress was the first of her mistakes. She is an office holder in the government of the area in which I live, and I genuinely would expect her to dress the part and show respect to the office which she bears. Her little speech ‘as gaeilge’ was inappropriate, out of place, and nothing more than a tokenism that besmirches the Irish language. I speak Irish because I love it, not because someone else doesnt do it. I think that was the height of coat trailing bad manners.

    And my final point: I grew up in the same era as Catriona in the RoI. There was no selection in my day, and we did indeed elect to go on to academic or vocational training. I always thought it was a good system, but apprarently it too has been dismantled as it was found to be ineffective. I dont have the details, but then again, I’m not the Minister.

    Overall, I think Catriona is trying to be smug, and is going to do nothing more than worry the socks off parents and kids who depend on information for their future. I am just so so glad I dont have children pending transfer to post primary school, I think I would be a wreck.

    The best way to put the children first Minister, is to step up to the plate, behave in a manner befitting a Minister, and start to place appropriate plans and formulated ideas out to your committee.

    Oh, and by the way, her complaint at having to get up at half 6 in the morning to go to a committee meeting was risible. What planet is she living on?

  • tot

    Half six in the morning, Minister! welcome to the real world, some of us are on the road at that stage!

  • lib2016

    Reader,

    That’s precisely my point – the people with interested concerned parents with a basic education have a built in advantage and due to the 11-plus have managed to get on in life. This isn’t 1946 where poor kids had no chance just because of their poverty, there are other reasons now. We have managed to build entire estates and inner cities where children have no role models and no encouragement to do better. The brightest and the best become drug dealers.

    Our current way of catering for them is to send them to second-class schools and tell them that they are worthless. We can do better. In my youth I went to old-style Catholic primary and secondary schools where the teachers were encouraged to ignore the lads who weren’t academic in favour of ‘the leaders of the future’. That approach wasn’t wide enough.

    The Catholic church has realised to it’s cost that it has failed a huge segment of society and is moving towards comprehensive schools, and there are many in the state system, even in NI who sympathise with that point of view. It is going to happen.

    We can’t afford to lose so many children, children who then grow up to become a terrible cost on society in a never-ending cycle. The current system doesn’t work.

  • willis

    Hmmm

    sms is not far wrong you know. If the way forward is chaos the big losers will be the Controlled Secondaries which will go to the wall in the way of Balmoral High.

    The big winners will be the Integrated and Irish Medium sectors which have built themselves up from a standing start because parents want their children to go to them.

  • lib2016

    missfitz,

    You really think a powersuit and refusal to use the language (for which there is a perfectly good translation service) would have changed anything. It wouldn’t, in fact by wearing light colours she emphasised that she was surrounded by the sort of middleaged white men in suits who messed up the system in the first place. Letting them display their lack of manners towards the Irish language just completed a good job well done. The deal is we accept them as they are, they accept us as we are.

  • belfastpau

    Can someone please explain from a SF perspective what impresses them\about Catriona Ruane.

    Does anyone remember when she was part of a group that produced a booklet concerning wether Ireland was a Third World country. The worst thing I ever read.

    So someone from a SF perspective tell us all what talents, ability and /or capacity that Ruane has?

    And before you start we all know that the education system needs reform. This is not a Ruane idea.

  • willis

    I must admit that a week ago I thought that Cat was not at the match but now I am getting a glimmer of a strategy.

    Is she drawing Sammy, Jeffrey, Bas and Mervyn in to behaving to type? Will they overreach themselves?

    Book your tickets now!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”just look at how many of these “news-stories” have been turned by a group of nameless, faceless alter-egos on this site into attack after attack on SF and all those who voted for them…”

    Twinbrook, in fairness, Catriona is a disaster and a self-righteous tantrum thrower to boot, but discredit where it’s due, and Edwin Poots really is no better. The sooner these two are given the opportunity to swop jobs with two random Stormont cleaners the better. Then we can all appreciate the improvement.

    ‘we`ll win again, don`t know where don`t know when but I`ll know we`ll win again some sunny day>>>

    Sorry Twinbrook I wasn’t aware you’d actually won anything.

    ‘I am just so so glad I dont have children pending transfer to post primary school, I think I would be a wreck.’

    I do and I am.

  • [i]I think Ruane is the best of a bad lot and people here are allowing their anti republicanism cloud their judgement.

    Posted by OILibhear Chromaill on Feb 01, 2008 @ 04:49 PM[/i]

    Are you for real? What about the many SDLP and Alliance supporters who think she is incompetant also? Are they just biggots too? Have you been taking community relations lessons from Martina Anderson?

    Frankly I’m unimpressed with her efforts as a Minister. More and more she’s sounding like Maud Flanders with an accent “Won’t somebody please think of the children”. Her handling to the classroom assistants dispute was half assed and she’s let a comedy politician like Sammy Wilson make her look like a fool. She obviously can’t handle the pressures of office and should retreat to the backbench where her main use will be to walk through the right door when the division bell goes.

  • willis

    Can I just remind y’all that this is a Peace Process. Not everyone will survive. Sammy will get his turn at being a minister. I think he will be quite good. About as good as Gerry. Half-cut from the same smart-ass cloth.

  • Mick Fealty

    sms (and willis),

    That’s a nice inversion of BL’s status quo argument. Yet you may both be right.

    Unless the Minister is able to get some kind of prohibition on selection, the abolition of the 11+ won’t mean the end of academic selection (except for those schools which choose to drop it). Most, though not all, Grammars are Voluntary, and retain a high degree of autonomy to decide how they take pupils.

    There is already some watering down of academic selection where prospective students are short on the ground. Others take students with C grades and below, but only with the payment of fees.

    If the Catholic Grammars all do what they are told, then are we likely see two discrete systems emerge by default? Will masterful inactivity, bring about what everybody wants?

  • Pounder, that’s a ridiculous accusation and it shouldn’t be allowed to stand here on Slugger!!

    It’s Helen Lovejoy who screams “Won’t somebody please think of the children!?”

    😉

    I’ve noticed a lot of this “If you criticise anything Sinn Fein do you’re an anti-republican bigot” bullshit coming out lately (presumably just because Ms Ruane’s giving us such an abundance of ammunition – no pun intended). Is this a legacy of the MOPE syndrome, a new republican siege mentality or just lack of imagination?

  • nineteensixtyseven

    Ruane is worthless.

    I move that this blog expresses a vote of no confidence in the Minister for Education

  • Crataegus

    Northside and Reader.

    Good Posts

    Missfitz

    The best way to put the children first Minister, is to step up to the plate, behave in a manner befitting a Minister, and start to place appropriate plans and formulated ideas out to your committee.

    Oh, and by the way, her complaint at having to get up at half 6 in the morning to go to a committee meeting was risible. What planet is she living on?

    Misfitz I think that about sums it up. That was utterly dreadful. If I employed her she would be seeking other employment.

    If anyone associated with SF is inclined to row in behind the minister, don’t. It would be in the best interests of SF if they leaned on her and she resigned. That performance was plain awful, she is clearly neither up to the job and has scant regard for those she has to work with.

    Mick

    though that route sounds like chaos it may indeed bring the best solution, but somehow I feel a sense of clarity and purpose is needed.

    I cannot understand the total aversion to selection. 11 seems a bit young to me but eventually in this cruel world there is selection.

  • willis

    “Masterful Inactivity” I wish I’d thought of that Mick.

    I have visions of those old Spitting Image sketches with Cat Reagan in a world of her own while the world spins out of control.

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed Crat.

    I’ve a friend who describes the middle schools that are integral to the comprehensive system in parts of England, Wales and Scotland as simply ‘four year long eleven plus’. Except there you are up against the inertia of the streaming system which can be particularly dull in the way it handles students.

    I know of one kid who was graded in the top stream in his first year in Middle School but faded rapidly to the fifth stream by third year and only got out by taking the Grammar School entrance exam at the end of that same year.

    There are times when masterly inactivity works in government. But it is slightly unnerving that ideological warfare seems to have completely usurped the welfare of children. Not least because there is so much more to talk about than Grammar and Irish medium schools (of which, incidentally, we should hear more of their educative benefits and least of how they are a measure of someone else’s intolerance).

  • Alan

    “… eventually in this cruel world there is selection”

    But there is no reason for the state to sponsor it at age 11 or 14.

    I have been pressing for the end of selection for many a long year. This, however, really was an unsightly performance. I wonder if the issue is general inertia within the Department.

    If an issue as critical as the Transfer cannot be addressed decisively with timescales, thorough exposition of the required changes and a transparent rationale, then the job is not being done.

    We have a clear opportunity to improve Education for all of our children by ending selection. We cannot allow the opposition of mediocre minds to succeed because we are not organised.

    We cannot ignore the arch-conservative ranting about education as natural selection. They may, indeed, see themselves as red in tooth and claw, but their arguments are a patchwork of self interest, hokey statistics and home-spun platitudes. They have to be beasted into submission.

    The way to do that is to be politic – be decisive, set dates, announce reform, respect committees and keep to the script. Ending selection is the right thing to do.

  • sms

    mick
    re educative benefits of Irish medium education.

    If educative benefits are confined to 11+s, gcse’s and A levels, then Irish Medium schools would perform a little better than comparable English medium schools but there’s not a lot in it. on the other hand if parents feel that being fluent in a second language ( whatever it should be)at a very young age gives them a better understanding of their own and other peoples cultures then I would count that as being of educative benefit. Another advantage of Irish medium schools is that parents have taken a conscious decision to involve themselves directly in their children’s education which is very progressive in the society we live in.

  • saveus

    As a republican I see the problems associated with Catriona as being reflective of the transition the movement is going through. I have no doubt she is an intelligent and competent person but her problem is that she just does not have what it takes to be a Minister, I actually don’t think she has what it takes to be a good public representative, but that’s another story for another day.This performance was the worst I have ever seen from her(or any Minister and Poots takes some beating) and in any normal party she and her advisors would be clearing their desks. The leadership decided a long time ago that Catriona was destined for stardom, and to be honest she is probably one of the most able MLAs that SF have, but SF do not put forward people for MLAs, Councillors or indeed Ministers based on their ability to do the job, they put them forward on the basis that they will take a line, that they are popular with the leadership clique or that they were once good soldiers of the revolution. Catriona will not be replaced, she will fight and lose South Down at the next Westminster election and after the next Assembly election she will be consigned to the back benches, for her to go now would mean the leadership admitting they made a huge mistake and that they have been managing the organisation poorly. This will not happen. It is unfortunate but it will at the expense of our children’s education. SF will hopefully begin to realise that while revolutionaries are motivated by ideals, they are de-motivated by lack of progress towards those ideals. SF need to get the finger out and start delivering even if it is only in a six county context.

  • Mick Fealty

    sms,

    The one benefit I would say I got from learning Irish as opposed to French is the degree of fluency it’s possible to achieve in Irish even in Northern Ireland.

    Having worked in a number of countries in Europe, I’d say there advantage in picking picking up the rudiments of a third and fourth language. Particularly if it is picked up earlier in life.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Ruane hasn’t done a lot which seems impressive. The single biggest issue here is the fact that no plan exists for how post-primary education is going to work.

    Talking back to the DUP in Irish was a stupid stunt.

  • Crataegus

    saveus

    If a minister is plain awful (Poots included) the parties really would be better being seen taking firm action. To let this sort of attitude linger does little good for anyone. I have always found that it is better to face up to this type of problem as quickly as possible. If they did there would be less political damage in the long run. Other than that I agree with your sentiments re SF.

    Mick

    I would dearly like to see a greater emphasis in learning language starting in Primary School, as for Irish as the Medium I think that should be a matter of choice. Pity there isn’t German or French as a medium or perhaps in the new Ireland Polish.

    From what I know of the English Comprehensives, I really do not like them and the measures parents will go to to get children into the ‘right’ school points to wider dissatisfaction. Also more people will simply go private, it is not that expensive and within the budget of many.

    Alan

    The idea of all going to the same school and there being streaming within a school does have a certain appeal, but for it to work properly you need very large schools so you can offer both the subject range and the streams.

    In the end it will end up as school by postcode. So school will be selected by depth of the parents pockets. Who gains from this?

  • joeCanuck

    When people talk about choice by postcode, where do the parents get the information to decide which schools are best? Word of mouth or does some agency produce school ranking lists?

  • Joe, there are league tables for exam results. I’m not sure if they stopped publishing them in NI the last time we had a local executive, but in England they’re all the rage.

  • joeCanuck

    Thanks, Beano.
    Here in Ontario we have no selection at all. And there are no standardized province wide tests which would allow a comparison of schools.
    Universities have learned from experience which high schools puff up their students marks and, so far as I have heard, take that into account when granting admission.
    Rankings of Universities are published by the newspaper media but I’m not sure how they do their ranking.

  • Reader

    Mick Fealty: If the Catholic Grammars all do what they are told, then are we likely see two discrete systems emerge by default?
    The obvious first consequence is that the Voluntary Grammars will all be able to get back to just taking ‘A’s again.
    The cynic in me says (1) That’s why it hasn’t already happened, and (2) That’s why the Maintained sector won’t move unilaterally except where schools are already threatened with closure due to falling numbers (call it a pilot scheme…).

  • Gum

    I think she’s a good minister. This confrontational performance didnt do much for the reputations of anyone in the room. But the days of unionists simply bullying anyone they dont like are over. She is entirely within her rights to act how she did – the committee need to act with a little more humility as well.

    If education is such a key issue for the unionist parties, why didn’t the DUP request that portfolio? They knew what SF would do with the post if they were to get it and yet let the Shinners take it.

  • iskram

    What time does the Minister normally get up, given that she clearly considered having to get out of bed at 6.30am a cruel and unusual punishment.

  • sean

    I don’t give two hoots what Caitriona Ruane wears, how she presents herself in the assembly , as long as she get rid of the 11-plus. Academic selection of primary school children is intricately evil, and is nothing more than a form of apartheid. The biggest losers in this form of apartheid is the children from working class homes. If the reverse was the case and children from middle class homes were the losers, the same people ranting on about the minister attire etc, would be up in arms. Working class people for the first time in N.Ireland history, have a political party now, with some power to do something real about the evil selection procedure of young children, which is engineered so the middle classes can have the best school for their own. These middle class twats, are the same clowns you see week in week out in one section of the media or another ranting on about alleged human rights abuses ,in some far of land , whilst their own children take advantage of one of the biggest human right abuses in the history of the state of N. reland.

  • willis

    If education is such a key issue for the unionist parties, why didn’t the DUP request that portfolio? They knew what SF would do with the post if they were to get it and yet let the Shinners take it.

    Bang on the money.

    Plug at Education and Cat at Culture.

    sorted.

  • Crataegus

    Sean

    Do you really think that the minster’s performance enhanced the prospects for the abolition of selection?

    No matter what your views on selection you do not behave in that manner if you want to get agreement and as for dress actually it is important. It shows respect for those you are working with and your office. You may strongly disagree with people but you have to show respect to them and dress and attitude are part of that. That is the convention.

  • willowfield

    SEAN

    Academic selection of primary school children is intricately evil, and is nothing more than a form of apartheid.

    Academic selection is evil, but selection by parental wealth is not?

    Apartheid based on educational ability is evil, but apartheid based on parental religious affiliation is not?

  • Julie

    As a parent with children in primary school I find this lack of detail from the minister very worrying. What is going to determine which school my child goes to? Its very unclear and making me very anxious as the nearest secondary school is quite poor in terms of academic standards.

  • URQUHART

    But seriously, a yella raincoat?

  • slug

    A question for the 11+

    Go to the last line of the minister’s statement and spot the punctuation mistake.

    It’s not hard to spot.