Entrenching or ending selective education?

Paul Butler, one of two Sinn Fein members of the Education Committee:

“This is a briefing paper outlining the factual position relating to post-primary transfer at this time. It is no secret that the Minister Caitriona Ruane has sought to achieve the maximum consensus among stakeholders, educationalists and political parties on the way forward. She is currently concluding this process. When this happens the Minister will bring forward detailed proposals on the way forward within the framework set out in her December statement to the Assembly.”

Hmmm, that would be why the Minister again refused to answer any questions relating to this particular ‘information gap’ in the Assembly today. She stonewalled a question from Mark Durkan asking her what she intended to do about the uncertainty in primary schools about new procedures for gaining entry into post primary schools, saying that primary schools had no other duty other than to deliver the new curriculum.

Sammy Wilson, the DUP’s point man on Education:

“Schools will not be surprised that they have to pay for their own tests but it seems a bit odd to me that the Minister would consider abdicating responsibility for the transfer of one section of the school population to post-primary schools.

“As Reg Empey has indicated, two can play at this game. The Minister could find others imposing sanctions on her if she goes down this road and that could include funding allocated for transfer being taken away from the department.”

Mr Wilson added that it was his view that grammar school places would be reduced by a sixth under his party’s proposals. Up to 30 grammar schools are currently considering signing up to a common entrance test for pupils.

Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, from the grammar school group the Association for Quality Education, said:

“We have already accepted that reality that the government was not going to pay for a private test. The only way out of this impasse may be to let people do their own thing – as long as schools wanting to retain academic selection can do so.”

The capacity for Grammars to do just that depends on the degree of coercion the Minister can bring to bare on them. In theory she can do almost anything within her department without reference to the Executive, short of legislation. Here she is proposing guidelines, rather than hard rules. It’s similar to the distinction between a deadline (enforceable by law), and a timetable (enforceable only by consent).

There are few ‘carrots’ available to a Minister with limited capital to invest, and struggling with fiscal pressures to make closures in schools where there are falling rolls. What ‘sticks’ there appear to be (potential legal action) are still indistinct. Interestingly the Catholic sector, in the lone shape of Lumen Christi College, has been the first to pre-emptively opt for selection. It may not be the last. Which is presumably why the Minister has warned them that they have opened “a prospect fraught with administrative and litigious perils.” However she does not specify what grounds on which she believes such appeals might be made.

She has also written to 40 feeder primary schools in the Derry area:

“…in which she told them to concentrate on delivering the revised curriculum. The Minister also told them that no post-primary school can oblige a primary school to prepare pupils for any particular feature of its admissions process.

For want of a parliamentary debate, it looks like this fight is (in the short term at least) to be fought through the school body, rather than in the wider Assembly or the Executive. Yet, short of a negative judgement in a courtroom, the minister may find that in the end, that’s the only place it can be satisfactorily settled. Without such a court judgement in her back pocket, there is little prospect of the minister fulfilling her own promise of ending selective education.

The DUP’s current ‘offer’ of ‘downsizing’ the Grammar sector, by beefing up the grades required for entry, will certainly make more pupils available for other schools: Wilson reckons it will probably force 1/6 of the grammars to seek non-selective status. But it is also likely to entrench selection even more deeply in the system.

Keep watching this space…

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  • Someone needs to wake up and smell the Colombian coffee.

  • BonarLaw

    The Watchman

    I suspect, given the shrillness of the ministerial performance to date, that that coffee is being well and truely smelt.

  • slug

    “It is no secret that the Minister Caitriona Ruane has sought to achieve the maximum consensus among stakeholders, educationalists and political parties on the way forward.”

    What a joke!

  • Turgon

    The Watchman,
    I suspect much coffee is being drunk in Shinner HQ whilst trying to work out how to get rid of Ruane. I suspect some is also be consumed in Dundela Avenue over removing Poots.

  • New Yorker

    The minister and her party appear to dislike intelligent and well-educated people. This is bad PR as seen from this side of the pond, especially when you are promoting yourselves as having a ‘highly educated work force’. Every good school has selection criteria because nature does not endow all students equally.

  • The Raven

    “The minister and her party appear to dislike intelligent and well-educated people.”

    Incredible isn’t it? I’m not going to argue the pro’s and con’s of the system we have/had in place. They’ve had a fair airing over the past few years.

    But when did this party get around to hating smart so much?

    I wonder, have any of them ever got around to seeing a kid in a class that isn’t being stretched to his/her full potential? I wonder, have any of them pondered what might have happened if some of our best and brightest didn’t have the opportunity to go to a grammar school?

    The mere notion of what is or isn’t a grammar school, is, of course, up for debate when you realise that many of them take grades all the way down to D. I don’t question the notion that instead of dumbing down our grammar schools, we should be striving to improve our less-well performing schools.

    But I wonder just when the intelligensia of some of our elected representatives decided that the gameplan in Northern Ireland should be to strive for mediocrity?

  • The Raven

    PS Good luck to Lumen Christi on this one. Someone needed to lead the charge – I think it’s pretty brave of them to have picked up the baton, despite the despotic threats.

    I am wondering why the Bishop was left out of the original decision…perhaps someone has finally decided that the separation of Church and Education isn’t such a bad idea after all.

  • willis

    Fair Play to Sammy Wilson

    He is not just settling back and letting the Grammars do the hard pounding. The DUP proposals have an intellectual consistency. If this really is elite education so be it.

    The question I would ask of those closer to DUP thinking than me is:

    Does the reduction in numbers at 11+ free up space for the Grammars to take more students at 14+ and 16+? If so this may be a viable way forward. The Grammars have a proven ability to get smart kids into University. What they are much less good at is preparing kids for a broad range of jobs which fall into the range between barrister and shelf-stacker.

    We desperately need to grow schools which can do the above and close down (sadly) a number of schools which are simply a drain on resources.

  • New Yorker

    Raven

    I doubt many in SF have a good grammar or university education. That they do not appreciate excellent education, indicates the level of their intelligence. No successful country throws open the doors of their best schools for anybody who wants to walk in but that seems to be the plan in NI.

  • The Raven

    “We desperately need to grow schools which can do the above and close down (sadly) a number of schools which are simply a drain on resources.”

    Willis, what would you class (for want of a better word) as being a drain on resources? (by the way, that’s not a gauntlet question – I AM genuinely interested in your opinion on this)

  • Turgon

    I am reticent to mention this as it instantly breaks Godwin’s law, however, it is worth noting other revolutionary parties like the Nazis were rather anti intellectual.

    I suspect SF’s problem is that many of their leadership were “volunteers” and as such probably were clever but not stunningly well educated. Most were working class and it is indeed one of the undoubted problems of our system that working class children get to grammar school less often than middle class children.

    As such there may be an anti grammar school bias built into many in the SF leadership. I have said before that I do not have the solution to the current problems in education which at least is an advance on Ruane who has no solution but will not admit it.

  • New Yorker

    Turgon

    Many of your grammar schools are as good as any in the world. There may well be problems with other schools and that should be remedied. But why destroy grammars in that process?

  • DC

    The Roman Catholic Bishop in Derry, Doherty, made a pass that the Lumen Christi grammar school’s approach was stunting equality of opportunity.

    However, you need only look at equality of opportunity in the job market to see the nonsense that conflicts with the stance he is putting about re access. For example, I may want to apply for Chief Executive, I can do so of course, but the equality of opportunity will be there in that I can obtain the application and submit it, but I will need to prove with educational achievements and relevant experience that I am able.

    There is no bar in terms of accessing and sitting such tests to enter the school, only the ability to achieve in that proposed test will decide whether the individual progresses, if the education minister gets her way with her one-system-fits-all approach then there looks as though there will be a cost attached.

    It’s simply remarkable that Sinn Fein is pushing such a holistic form of reform. In this day and age choice is key and it looks as though Northern Ireland will be following England once again with the best schools going private for those with the dosh. Service with a smile.

  • Driftwood

    There *are* some very good secondary schools out there, and a few mediocre grammars. Schools are not the problem. Selection, or the more pc “streaming” has to happen at some stage. Melanie Phillips pointed this out in “All must have prizes”. Unfortunately some in UK/Irish society look down on vocational education. This is not the case in Germany.
    For what it’s worth Sammy Wilson is on the right track. Grammars need to be more selective and Secondarys and FE need a bit more respect. Children should be allowed to move schools at 14 if appropriate. Ultimately, everyone should find their niche in life. I wish I’d learnt plumbing/joinery instead of the public sector middle management desert of boredom.
    So it goes…
    What’s the bookie odds on Ruane as first faller? They’re usually on the ball. 1/3? Poots on even money?

  • Rory

    “Every good school has selection criteria because nature does not endow all students equally.” New Yorker

    It is precisely “because nature does not endow all students equally” that is the reason why a good school ought NOT to have a selection criterion which denies a pupil perceived as less able at the age of eleven access to educational advancement. The flawed nature of the selection criteria is another compelling reason for society, not only for the sake of social justice, but in its own self-interest to reject selection in favour of universal access.

  • Driftwood

    Rory
    Are you posting from North Korea?

  • Steve

    Cant speak for nIreland but I know for a cold stone fact right now in Canada we need a lot more electricians, plumbers, carpenters, mechanics and even waitresses than we need any more goddammed lawyers

  • DC

    Driftwood, I think you are right about falling first.

    To use an oft-cited SF quote, ‘the reality is’ is that if Sinn Fein mess this up badly, the repercussions would be very damaging electorally with possibly some overspill into the DUP for blatant ministerial negligence.

    Poor ole rhino-hide John O’Dowd trying to help push forward Ruane’s lopsided 3-wheel cart, all his effort just seems to be pushing it down further into the dirt.

    The key issue is that you’ve got to condition to bring people with you and offer a diverse system which is reflective of certain successes and corrective towards certain failings. Balance. Is it just me or why is there such a real lack of diversity in terms of choice with Ruane’s proposal.

    It’s like the age of consent debate, the large parties rallied around keeping it at 17 despite the fact of the realities that people can get married at 16 and 16 is the rate across the UK; however, this 1 year reduction may well have been 10! Conservatism is alive and well and it is affecting progressive approaches at every level, and my main argument with conservatism, save that of the environmental approaches, is that it really is not reflective of the practical realities on the ground and is largely instigated in order to give the impression that it is maintaining a sense of moralism. Yet all the same actions to the contrary happen out on the street regardless of such strong stances.

    Education today is a reflection of that now with Lumen Christi College saying ‘nah you’re alright’.

  • New Yorker

    Rory

    Some students are less able and hold back those that are more able. Why do you have difficulty recognizing those facts?

  • joeCanuck

    I think that selection, with a healthy dose of self-selection rather than parental selection is a good thing. But not at 11 years old for crying out loud.

    Many a flower is left To bloom unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Turgon

    I see in TUV councillor Cecil Calvert that your party clearly has a high threshold of intellectual attainment as a precursor to assuming elected status….

    I thought Catriona put in one of her better performances today in the Assembly, and, as Mark Devenport noted in his blog today, the glares from Iris and the DUPer benches indicated a growing anxiety over their inability to control the direction of the discussion at present.

    The letter to primary schools was a particularly important development, signalling as it did that the Department – and presumably the Inspectorate- will be expecting no slack in the delivery of the revised curriculum throughout key stage two.

    I think it would have been good for someone to remind the many DUP MLAs singing the praises of Lumen Christi that, according to one of their Education Committee members, it should be closed down alongwith all other Catholic and integrated schools in the DUP ‘vision’ of education.

    For the record, there are a number of Sinn Fein MLAs and other elected reps who not only attended Grammar schools but- wait for it- went on to third level education. Now, that might be inconsistent with the north Down golf club bars consensus, but unfortunately it’s true.

    Indeed, I think Turgon’s post on the infamous 17th century genocidal Sassenach was partially inspired by the Coleraine Council exchange between a university lecturer Sinner and some half-witted elected rep from the ‘intellectual’ side of the fence.

    It’s truly awful when facts get in the way, isn’t it….

  • Garibaldy

    To say this is anything to do with the social background of the PSF leadership meaning they don’t understand the value of a good school is nonsense, and patronising. And the Provos are no more anti-intellectual than the culture in these islands more generally, and some of them less so.

    What this is about is the fact that our education system traumatises around 2/3 of our children by branding them as failures at 11. Which is absolutely, totally and utterly needless. As Rory says, there is an issue of social justice and equality here.

    I am not against streaming pupils – every educational system has it (even Driftwood those in socialist states). But the benefits to be gained from it to not necessitate the brutal system we have now.

    DC has hit on something very important – the issue of privitisation. The reasons that some state schools are a disaster in England are extremely varied, involving cultural and societal factors, but a major one has been Thatcherite ideology. Public schools were stripped of proper funding while the culture of private schooling among the middle classes was encouraged. The result is that the state schools were stripped of the protection of the most politically effective groups in society.

    We must avoid the replication of this in NI. Pressure from the middle classes will ensure a reformed school system is one of the priorities of the devolved administration, as it is in Scotland and Wales. Without that pressure, the state schools will be subjected to further neglect.

  • Rory

    The main reason that I do not recognise your statement as a fact, New Yorker, is that it is not a fact. It is merely an argument put forward by elitists to justify their malign attempt to turn the education of our children into an exclusive commodity for the already advantaged.

  • Garibaldy

    I’m glad to see Chris on here as an educationalist and as a member of the party responsible for education policy. I wonder though if he might explain a little better what exactly his party’s vision is, and why it hasn’t been more clearly fleshed out over the last number of years, especially when they’ve been so effective on so many other fronts. It is truly baffling given the importance of the issue, especially to its electorate.

  • New Yorker

    Chris

    Which SF MLAs have university degrees?

    Garibaldy

    If it is not social background, how do you explain why they want to dumb down the grammars? It is not as if it is an educationally credible position.

  • New Yorker

    Rory

    It is a fact that some youngsters make better students than other youngsters. Do you dispute that? We are not all created equal in intelligence and several other areas and to pretend otherwise is an absurdity.

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s a lot of sense in that specific direction Chris. It’s long been recognised (including by the Grammar school lobby) that coaching for the 11+ has had a disasterous effect on the amount of teaching time devoted to tutoring for the tests in the two years previous.

    This appears to have worsened considerably from my time (and we are beginning to talk ancient history now). As I recall we maybe did four or five practice papers at most: the rich kids got private tutoring outside school time, or were locked in their rooms with a heap practice papers to get through.

    The middle class has got larger and more fiercely ambitious for their children. Kids in my home town used to go to the local state Grammar or ‘Intermediate@, or the local Catholic Grammar or ‘Intermediate’. Now it’s not uncommon for three kids in the same family to go to three different ‘Grammar’ schools.

    They almost live in terror of their children falling ‘through the bottom’ and having to go to the local High School. This in turn has a deleterious effect on the social profile that go there. I can see how ring-fencing Grammar places on strict ability might restrict places and force more children into the wider system, but I don’t see what levers are available to the Minister to force the Grammars to stop being Grammars if she can’t get hard legislation on the books.

    But then again, I might be missing something vital here.

  • Garibaldy

    NY,

    There are plenty of people from the upper and middle classes who have been to grammar schools and top-flight universities who want to change the educational system. It’s a matter of ideology and educational opinion and not of background. The point I was addressing was a slightly different one – the suggestion that because the PSF leadership is primarily working class, then it could not appreciate a good school and the value of education. A ridiculous attitude.

    Chris will know more of the educational qualifications of the MLAs than me, but AFAIK there are quite a few who have been to university. Such as the one with a phd for example. And quite frankly, I’m not really sure what it matters. Gerry Adams was not at university, but he went to St Mary’s I think. So does getting the 11+ make him qualified to comment, but not one of his colleagues or someone from another party who didn’t? The notion that the educational qualifications of elected politicans mean that their opinions should be given greater or lesser weight is absurd. I suggest you read Tom Paine’s Rights of Man, where he hammers this type of thinking. But then again, as far as the aristocrat of England were concerned, he and the other American revolutionaries were ill-educated, unsophisticated barbarians incapable of understanding politics.

  • Rory
    Are you posting from North Korea?

    Driftwood,
    No he is not, he is simply expressing the opinions of a decent man who values justice and equality, but it seems you are posting from the likes of apartheid South Africa, accept you wish to separate the people, whilst they are still children on class lines.

    Your talk of SF ministers failing to gain a decent education sums you up, do you therefor argue for doing away with selection so this does not happen to a future generation. Hell as like you do, instead you blame these men for the systems failure and attempt to look down your noses at them as if they were shit on your shoes. These SF ministers, for all their faults are ten times the men you are, for at least they are trying to build an education system based on Equality.

    Let me just remind you who made the north the sink hole of the UK, Who administered a wretched system that was infected with prejudice and hate against nationalists at every level

    At the top sat public school education morons and brutes’ who had the finest liberal education money could by. The creep who was PM of NI for many decades I believe was educated at the UKs so called top public school. He and his successors used their university education to build a society in the north of Ireland that benefited the majority and the expense of the minority

    Lets look and those who governed this sectarian statelet on behalf of the Protestant elite. almost to a man they were educated in the north’s grammar schools. Yet they administered the Statelet and its education and criminal justice system in the most sectarian way.

    You are the most reactionary people, whose only solution to the problems of the north’s education system is to turn the clock back. You wish to deprive the majority of working class children, whether protestant or catholic, of a fair and equal chance in life. Shame on you.

    All your fine talk is no more than window dressing and self interest, for what you are attempting to do is ring fence your middle class professions and book your own kids into the grammar schools. What makes this worse is that you are all well aware that the grammar school system the majority of working class children and you do not give a fuck, as long as you and yours can elbow yourselves to the front.

  • Mick Fealty

    Can I just say that the alleged anti intellectualism of Sinn Fein and it’s members is a mistaken perception of the reality. Some of the brightest and highest educational achievers I’ve meet in NI politics have been members of that party.

    On an earlier thread, someone suggested Catriona was somehow not ‘qualified’ to be minster. She is and should be by dint of her political mandate. End of. The question I’m mulling at this point is primarily, is it sufficient to do what says she wants to?

  • What makes this worse is that you are all well aware that the grammar school system FAILED the majority of working class children and you do not give a fuck, as long as you and yours can elbow yourselves to the front.

  • The Raven

    Garibaldy wrote: “What this is about is the fact that our education system traumatises around 2/3 of our children by branding them as failures at 11.”

    Traumatises? Have you evidence of that?

    I work in an office with 8 other people. We’re all in the 26- 36 age range. I know for a fact, as we were discussing it only today, that half passed, two failed, and two didn’t sit it. The four who passed were glad to have had the opportunity to go to grammar school. One of the two who failed passed a review the following year, and was able to avail of a place at grammar school. The one who failed and stuck with the comprehensive system said she was happy with the outcome of her life so far. Strangely, none experienced trauma. And none of them consider themselves failures.

    I went to a grammar school at that time when most were closing their boarding departments. There were still a few lads there who had not passed their transfer test, and had been given paid places.

    It was very obvious that those lads struggled to keep up. And personally, if I had had to work at their speed or at their level, I’d have been very bored indeed. You might not like the way I worded that – it does read in a very condescending manner. But there it is. Some people work better in a more pressurised academic environment than others, and grammar schools CAN – not always do – but CAN cater better for certain kids. Whatever process you follow, to allow kids to find their niche, it always boils down to some form of selection.

    It’s not that this issue levels the playing fields for all pupils. Instead, it takes away an important opportunity for bright kids to do better.

    Somebody above was writing about how they would have preferred to have been an electrician or plumber. It may have been the case that previously grammar schools did not view this as a potential career. I think I could safely say that I defy anyone to find a grammar school that does not – either by itself, or in partnership with other local schools/colleges – offer vocational options in its curriculum.

    By the way, before anyone brings in any “social” or class aspect to this – I come from a single parent family in an ordinary run of the mill estate. I wouldn’t have considered us middle class. Nor would I have said the same about two thirds of the lads at the school.

    I ask again, as no-one seems willing to engage the question: just when did some of our elected representatives decided that the gameplan in Northern Ireland should be to strive for mediocrity?

  • Driftwood

    Garibaldy
    It *shouldn’t* brand 2/3 children as “failures”. I know many friends went to secondary/FE doing better than this kid from Meadowlands, Downpatrick, who went to a grammar.
    Some wankers at the school seen my going to QUB, rather than Edinburgh etc as “failure” Fuck ’em.
    Who brands non grammar kids as failures?
    No-one is a ‘failure’ unless they choose to be so.
    However, in my B stream grammar opinion, Ruane (and Poots) are not fit for the positions they hold.
    Repeat cliche- opinions are like arseholes- everybody has one.
    To be continued…

  • The Raven

    “What makes this worse is that you are all well aware that the grammar school system FAILED the majority of working class children and you do not give a fuck, as long as you and yours can elbow yourselves to the front.”

    Damn. I posted my long-winded shite before reading the statement above. Otherwise, I’d have written something a little earthier…let’s see….something like…”Fuck you, I *was* a working class kid. So was most of my class. And we elbowed ourselves to the front. So take your sob story elsewhere.”

    But that would be an awful thing to write, because it would just reflect that we worked hard and came out the other side with some well deserved qualifications. Go figure.

  • BonarLaw

    you gotta love Mick Hall!

    I think he’s saying some unionists went to grammar schools, he doesn’t like unionists therefore we must get rid of grammar schools. And if you disagree with him you are an apartheid era racist!

    Well shame on me.

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    Society brands them failures. Changing the system from Pass and Fail to Eligible or Non-Eligible or to yes or nor, or a combined letter and number does not fail that. Many people do overcome the disadvantages of being consigned to a school that almost inevitably has less resources and the stigma that goes with it, but I think it’s blindingly obvious that on that Saturday morning as the fat and thin envelopes arrive that around two thirds are branded as failures. And that that is traumatic.

    As I said, I have no objection to streaming. In fact I’m in favour of it. And by subject – as soon people who are brilliant linguists can’t count and vice versa. What I am not in favour of is physically separating so-called academic from non-academic children.

    On Mick’s point about anti-intellectualism, I would say that educational attainment is not the same thing as intellectualism. The academic culture of these islands is to a large extent anti-intellectual when compared to the states or the rest of Europe.

  • Driftwood

    Raven
    Sorry, it was me re: the vocational thingie.
    That was 1981. Things have changed since we were told if you are going for A levels, join the RUC, if not,the UDR. Just my experience.
    Queens was pretty inefectual for me. 2:1, big fucking deal, but Ulsterbus was ok.
    Can I just throw in a plug for the OU? Brilliant.
    Harold Wilson, Labours best idea post Bevin.

  • The Raven

    Garibaldy, if I may respectfully flip your first sentence over on itself (and it is a good point well made) – the point I am making, and made further back was that in getting rid of the grammar system, we are equally turning our backs on those who are academic “successes”.

    Again, I must ask – why are we striving for mediocrity?

  • DC

    Equality = moralistic ethics
    Absolutism = conservatism

    However with both these stances solidifying together so widely in the education setting today it makes for a very restrictive reform framework, as it tends to overlook the complexities of academic attainment, which largely sits outside both the above fields. But I suppose if academic attainment is discounted then that changes the nature of the dabate as the direction becomes less so clear.

    I’m all for diversity through choice: progressivism.

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    I’ve no desire to see mediocrity. I am of the opinion that it is entirely possible for NI to sustain the propertion of high grades it gets now, but at the same time raise the standards at the bottom, while eradicating the humiliation of the majority of our children. Properly-funded, well-streamed comprehensives are the answer.

  • Driftwood

    I’m going to bed
    Raven/Bonar Law
    Spot on.

    But 3 glasses of Cabernet Sauvignon may have affected a sense of myopia.

    Good night, from a prole turned petit bourgeois.
    No doubt by the elitist, capitalist zionist etc powers that be.

  • Mick Fealty

    Gari,

    My misgiving about the foundation of this argument is: one, the political reality disallows a constructive move away from the selection model; and two, the evils of selection versus verities of comprehensive education (and vice versa) are being exaggerated for fairly obvious party political and/or pure ideological reasons. Educational need is playing second or more accurately third fiddle.

    Up-shifting the age of transfer to 14 is likely to take the sting out of any trauma suffered. Plus, it is not readily understood (or acknowledged) locally that the comprehensive system in England has steadily moved away from mixed ability teaching (it ends abruptly at nine) and is now heavily into rigid streaming to keep the ‘thickos’ well apart from the ‘bright’ kids.

    I suspect that the specialist schools status may help to alleviate matters, and over time, dim the lifeboat effect that Northern Ireland’s Grammar’s seem to have on NI parents. But, again I repeat, I cannot see how Catriona’s big bang is going to be triggered.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick,

    I agree entirely that the political reality at the minute does not allow for the total implementation type of system I want (and I’m avoiding the main political argument over education here, otherwise words like secular and integrated and compulsory would be in greater evidence). And I agree that the longer this goes on the further away the big bang looks.

    When McGuiness announced the abolition of the 11+ SIX YEARS AGO I thought that a big bang looked likely, and so I think did many people in the educational sector. That has been neutered. Partly I have to say by unbelievably poor planning by PSF. Any big bang required a clear plan for replacements ready to be implemented almost immediately, not a fudge or vague guidelines.

    Up shifting the age of transfer does seem the most likely outcome – but, that will entail a huge amount of reform to the current post-primary sector. I don’t see that getting rid of selection altogether and implementing streaming is that big a difference. It should have the effect of maintaining the achievements at the top end, while raising standards at the bottom. As I said earlier, I think streaming should be devolved to the subject level, with the ability to move between classes easily (as happens to some extent in the US). Pupil profiling seems to me to have advantages here. It would also mean that there would be less of an idea of bright kids and thickos – more of people with different interests and strengths. After all, this is the way many GCSE and A Level classes work. None of this is that revolutionary – it’s the extension of existing norms. And based on educational rather than ideological reasoning I hope.

  • Steve

    Again I understand that I am a complete outsider but for me the greatest problem in your educational system is the grammars are funded at a much higher level then comprehensives.

    this is where the real problem lies.
    if vocational or secondary schools were funded and indeed encouraged at the same level as grammars then this debate would disapear

    SF is proposing a more egalitarian educational system not an anti-grammar system. But because they are proposing to remove the special provisions that only apply to grammars many in particular unionists think its an attack on grammars.

    Why should a 16 year old on the shankhill in a comprehensive be subject to lower funding criteria then a south belfast taig in a grammar

    thing is education, state funded education, is the right of everybody who chooses to participate. Not the right of thse with the ability to pass a discriminatory test.

  • New Yorker

    Mick

    “Can I just say that the alleged anti intellectualism of Sinn Fein and it’s members is a mistaken perception of the reality. Some of the brightest and highest educational achievers I’ve meet in NI politics have been members of that party.” That is certainly not my experience. They are usually ideologues who deal in slogans rather than ideas and that no longer works.

    It seems likely that both SF and the DUP have a lower percentage of university degree holders than the percentage of the public holding degrees. If that is the case, the less well educated are governing the better educated. You can see where that leads in dismantling the grammars and generally sinking to the lowest common denominator in many areas. Is that favorable to the common good?

  • 0b101010

    Lowest common denominator.

  • Mick Fealty

    NY:

    An economics degree doesn’t mean you can run an economy. Like Gerry Adams, Peter Robinson is a Grammar school boy, without a degree, but it’s generally agreed he’s done a sound job of pulling together a cohesive spending plan in way a more bookish character might not.

    Big bangs often don’t work the way their architects expect them to. The only way to have dealt with this is to look at practical routes towards a more egalitarian school system. Tackling middle class ‘lifeboat’ anxiety might be a first priority, by investing slowly and intelligently in innovating schooling for those outside the Grammar sector. There’s several models that could be pulled off the UK shelf.

    It’s the determination to go for big bang change that’s sending out conflicted signals.

  • willis

    The Raven

    “We desperately need to grow schools which can do the above and close down (sadly) a number of schools which are simply a drain on resources.”

    Willis, what would you class (for want of a better word) as being a drain on resources? (by the way, that’s not a gauntlet question – I AM genuinely interested in your opinion on this)

    I wasn’t ignoring the question, just getting some well needed sleep.

    Put simply, schools which have lost the confidence of parents, or in the appalling case of Balmoral High, never had it in the first place.

    http://archive.nics.gov.uk/edu/070323d-edu.htm

    Both Sammy Wilson and Iris Robinson have attacked Integrated Education for putting strain on Secondary Schools in the East Belfast and North Down area. However the main problem was that there were schools which parents did not want to send their children to. Once an alternative opened up they voted with their feet.

    That is the current flaw in the DUP argument. They want to retain academic selection. They also want to tell the 60% who do not get into Grammar school to take what they are given and be thankful.

  • willis

    Steve

    Mick posted this link a while back.

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2006-05-09d.67817.h

    Which purports to show that funding per pupil is actually higher in the Non – Grammar sector!

  • Mick Fealty

    Indeed willis. Despite all the wishing we weren’t were we are but somewhere better thinking, the problems of the education system require real thinking followed by rigorous long term action to ensure that such reforms as are implemented actually work.

    There are no silver bullets.

  • “Again I understand that I am a complete outsider but for me the greatest problem in your educational system is the grammars are funded at a much higher level then comprehensives.”

    Steve,

    You make the most important point, do the majority of children go to grammar schools no, so why are they receiving a higher degree of funding that cannot but give an advantage to those kids that attend them, in any democratic system use of tax payers money to benefit a minority of children is not sustainable and should be jumped on from a great hight. If these advocates of grammar schools want there children to have an exclusive education other and above what is available to the majority, they should get their cheque books out and pay for it, not leach of the taxpayers.

    Of course being well educated and intelligence are totally different things, a politician as Mick has said is placed into position by the will of the people; and if she/he is worth there salt they will have civil servants etc to take advice from who are experts in the various fields.

    Of course those who believe their shit does not stink are well aware of this but they will use the most low methodology to ring fence there positions and gain advantage over their fellow citizens.

    What this debate shows, due to the long war, is just how far behind the rest of Europe the north of Ireland is when it comes to state education and other societal matters. If an English politician was to get up and repeat some of the crap that has been posted on this thread, they would be howled down and laughed off the political stage.

    This thread points out just how sectarian many within the protestant middle classes still are, when they have no argument, like ‘bonor law’ did in his post, they revert to ‘you all hate protestants. If he is as well educated as he claims he should have read that I wrote ” You wish to deprive the majority of working class children, whether PROTESTANT or CATHOLIC of a fair and equal chance in life.

    I also find it interesting that these ring fencers who are only to ready to criticize those who were not lucky enough to have had their educational opportunities [and as far as working class kids are concerned getting a good education under the present system is based on luck] go all quiet when I ask how come the well educated gentlemen who created and ran the north for many decades made such a hash of it.

    Whilst I understand where Garibaldy and others are coming from and agree with what they write, this subject is not for a nice intellectual conversation, because the majority of those who support grammar schools do so out of blatant self interest and to hell with the rest, which means someone else will have to pick up the tab and in this case it is working class children, CATHOLIC and PROTESTANT, and that is just plain wrong.

    I would go further it is wicked and destructive for if grammar schools remain, the north will stagnate economically and socially continue to be a sectarian statelet; and in truth that is just what these middle class Protestant advocates of selective education want. They wish to feel safe in their nasty little middle class sectarian cocoon.

  • Reader

    Mick Hall: You make the most important point, do the majority of children go to grammar schools no, so why are they receiving a higher degree of funding that cannot but give an advantage to those kids that attend them, in any democratic system use of tax payers money to benefit a minority of children is not sustainable and should be jumped on from a great hight.
    Long sentence, but wrong premise. Grammar schools, as pointed out on the previous page, get lower levels of funding.
    So – is equal sharing of resources at 2nd level education really important to you as a matter of principle? Or does the politics of envy push on regardless, using less concrete grievances?

  • Driftwood

    Mick Hall, get a grip.

  • Ex catholic grammar

    Mick Hall

    “that is just what these middle class Protestant advocates of selective education want”

    What do the Catholic parents who advocate selective education want? There are many such people

    “If an English politician was to get up and repeat some of the crap that has been posted on this thread, they would be howled down and laughed off the political stage”

    Are these the same English politicians who are re-introducing the 11+ or equivalent in many LEA areas throughout England? The same English politicians of whatever party who send their children to Grammars or fee paying schools?

    Like your failure to acknowledge your mistaken assertion about funding differences between schools your arguments demonstrate that you are as set in your ways and as unlikely to let a fact spoil your argument as anyone else.

    Amd before I am accused of playing the man I am simply replying to the assertion that anyone who disagrees with Mick is nasty, sectarian and (God forbid) middle class.

  • willis

    Funding is supposed to be equal across all post-primary pupils. The disparity in the link I referred to is probably due to preparatory pupils being included along with Grammar pupils.

    The real problem is the disparity in funding between primary and post-primary pupils.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/article2489550.ece

    Primary schools are mixed ability comprehensives subject to a “postcode lottery”. A pupil who leaves at GCSE will have spent 7 years at a primary and 5 at a post-primary. In many cases the damage is done by 11. Yet all this debate is about post-primary education.

  • EX catholic school grammar

    The fact is that most of those who are defending grammar schools are middle class, and they do so imo out of self interest, it is no good denying that fact, I would have more respect for them if they said I support grammar schools because they benefit me and my own, but they do not, they instead dress this up in all sorts of intellectual garbage.

    I am totally against grammar schools because I have experienced sink schools and seen the damage selection can do to working class children.

    As to accusing anyone who disagrees with me as being nasty and sectarian it is bunkum, I have posted to slugger for a number of years and have almost always treated people who disagree with me with respect and the archive is there for you to look at. However on this issue I happen to believe my opponents in the main are being sectarian, selfish and nasty.

  • Garibaldy

    Mick Hall,

    I agree entirely that self-interest is the key to this debate, but at the same time I think that attributing the reactionary nature of our education system to the Provos’ long war and to sectarianism is to miss the extent to which selective education is popular among all the bourgeoisie in NI. After all, it is a Catholic grammar that has been the first to make its own selection arrangements. On top of that, people from working class backgrounds who have done well out of the 11+ are very often in favour of it (as this thread demonstrates).

    And therein lies one of the problems. There is a great deal of ambivalence among those supposedly opposed to selection. What they are really opposed to is the 11+, not an educational oligarchy which protects the interests of the already educationally and socially privileged.

    Hence why Ruane is NOT pushing for comprehensives. She knows the damage this could do among the recent converts to her party.

  • Hogan

    Mick Hall

    As you are fond of refering people to your archive i suggest you look at mine.

    There you will find a consistent Catholic/nationalist supporter of academic selection on various threads.

    To suggest your opponents are sectarian is an indication of your dogma and bigotry has blinded your judgement on this issue.

    As for being self-interested i would admit that is a small motivation, however i was always of an opinion that if you climb up a ladder you should always leave it there for others? … perhaps you disagree?

    What the anti-selection lobby has consistently failed to address is also inadvertently raised by your musings, the immenent rise of private education in the north if this goes ahead.

    You accuse pro-selectionists of being self-interested, well unless we have any 10 year-olds on this site i would suggest those posting have an interest in their children’s future and no apology should they make for it!

    The chief concern of any parent in life is their kids, how many do you think will sacrifice the 2nd car/holiday a year to pay school fees? Ans: Plenty! Nothing is more worth spending your cash on as a parent.

    25% of children in Edinburgh are privately educated. Makes your heart warm doesn’t it.

  • Hogan

    To complete the point you have three options?

    Selection by?

    1: Academic ability
    2: Wealth (Private school fees)
    3: Wealth (Postcode selection/House prices)

    You and Ruane can decide what you want?

  • ex catholic grammar

    Mick

    “I am totally against grammar schools because I have experienced sink schools and seen the damage selection can do to working class children.”

    I could reply with my own experiences of working class kids who have had an excellent education at a grammar and have thrived, developed and become valuable members of this society. I could point out that there are grammars where 50% or more of the pupils are in receipt of free meals.

    Perhaps the damage you have seen has resulted from the “sink schools” rather than selection. Perhaps all this thought, debate, energy and some actual resources should be aimed at improving the schools which fail children rather than attacking those that do not

  • Reader

    ex catholic grammar: Perhaps all this thought, debate, energy and some actual resources should be aimed at improving the schools which fail children rather than attacking those that do not
    I think the pro-comprehensive lobby hope that a substantial proportion of academic and motivated pupils, with committed, articulate parents, in their comprehensives, will benefit the overall population more than it would damage the academic ones.
    The comprehensive experience in GB suggests that they are wrong.
    In addition – the class warriors among them should maybe give some thought to the implication that they are expecting the middle classes to do all the heavy lifting out in the real world of education. Do they think that all aspiration and motivation has disappeared from the other sections of society? Even I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that! And will they let the new PTA put the boot into the teaching unions in an effort to raise standards? I suspect not.

  • I for one am one of those who believe the middle classes should start doing their share of the heavy lifting, after all generations of working class people have done more than their share with very little in return; and as far as Im aware in the past they never complained about their taxes paying for middle class children to attend university when their own were excluded due to selection..

    The whole problem with selection is that only one working class child at a time can get on the fabled ladder that middle class supporters of grammar schools often mention.

    It it simply untrue to say that comprehensive education has failed in the UK, however what has happened is that in recent years middle class parents have learnt how to play the game and people like Blair by sending his own kids across London to school, have taken any shame out of taking another child place at their local school.

    The elephant in the classroom in the UK has always been the continuation of public schools and most of all their charitable status. The reason other northern European nations do not have the same inbuilt weakness is because they believe if their society is to prosper selection and cash must not be the most important factor as far as a child’s education is concerned.

    One of the major problems that exist within working class communities is a lack of ambition for their children, there are a whole host of reasons and most center on badly educated parents. If this is not put right this injustice will simply be perpetuated down the generations. Mum and dad will have gone to a sink school and little johnny will follow on.

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that when middle class parents send their child to the local school and become active parent the standards within that school rise. Thus not only do their children receive a good education but so does the majority of pupils.

    A child is a blank canvas and if we as a society cannot give all kids and equal crack at life, why when they become adults should that child feel under any obligation to that society as they have no stake in it.

    Garibaldy

    When I wrote of the long war, what I meant was due to normal politics having put on hold during the PIRA insurrection, when the two communities became polarized along sectarian lines. Societal issues like education, gay rights, women’s equality and selective education were in many ways sidelined and not argued through to the degree that they were in the rest of western Europe.

    The argument we are now having was put to bed long ago elsewhere, for example that the odd working class children benefited by going to grammar schools. This was an old chestnut that was always raised by advocates of selection in the 1960-70s in the UK. It is an argument based on ignorance for whilst it is a joy that ten working children benefited from attending a grammar school, that left 30 in a poorly performing secondary school.

    I will say this again in case anyone else wishes to remind us about the benefit of climbing a ladder. A ladder can only safely take the weight of one person at a time.

  • New Yorker

    Mick Hall

    How do you define and/or describe “working class”? It is a phrase rarely used in the US these days.

    Money does not make a good school. A sufficient amount is necessary but there are many examples of schools with less funding than most that are better schools. And I think much of it has to do with the quality of the students as students. Schools with good students have a better learning ethos, attract the best teachers, have a high percentage going to university, interact more with past pupils, etc. Hence the importance of selecting the best candidates for a good school.

  • The Raven

    Mick Hall

    Frankly, I find the assertion quite nasty, that because I am someone who sees the value of grammar schools, I am obviously “sectarian, selfish and nasty”.

    I find it nauseous that because some of us from a “working class” (still waiting on a definition of that one) background worked hard, performed well and took the chance that we were given, we are “sectarian, selfish and nasty”.

    And I think most of the lads I went to school with would agree there, because I don’t remember too many of them coming from leafy suburbs and two-car homes.

    There’s no “intellectual garbage” in my posts. I’ll spell it out for you if it helps. I’ll even use your words, if you want. “I support grammar schools because they benefit me and my own”, my own being the people from “working class” backgrounds who “got in”. That, and because I for one, don’t believe in striving for mediocrity.

  • new yorker,

    I suppose in the past working class mainly meant blue collar or manual workers, as to the type of work they did, I suppose it went from digging holes/working on a production line, right across to merchant seaman and highly skilled engineering workers etc etc.

    These days I believe it is judged more by a persons income, or lack of one. Thus nurses, low paid office workers, lorry drivers, call center workers, train drivers retail trade,etc all fall into the working class category as it is a very broad field.

    Many people here also regard themselves working class despite being members of a middle class profession, if that was the class they were born into. Thus whilst these days I do not work in a working class job, due to having been born into a working class family, my habits, culture and loyalties are very much W/C. As to incidentally are my children, one of whom is a businessman and the other a psychiatric social worker, which is regarded here as a very middle class profession.

    Lucky for you the US does not suffer the same curse of classes in the same way as the UK. Where we have a very ridged class system, top down and in which there is very little movement between classes. Most people die as a member of the same class they were born into.

    Much of the sheer wretchedness of the UK Class system is down to the existence of the monarchy, for a top heavy monarchy of the type that exists here can not exists without a very hierarchical class system.

    When years ago I first visited the USA I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my shoulders and I could not put my finger on the reason why. It was only much latter I realized it was that your class system is solely based on money, whereas ours is about a mirage of unspoken things, language, education, health care, all of which are structured to benefit the people at the pinnacle of the system and so on down.

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    Why this assumption that people want mediocrity? Educational reform is about raising standards across the boards, not putting everyone in the middle. As you are very well aware, but that’s a good catchphrase to keep hammering at to avoid engagement with the serious arguments about how the current system fails huge numbers of people within it.

  • “There’s no “intellectual garbage” in my posts. I’ll spell it out for you if it helps. I’ll even use your words, if you want. “I support grammar schools because they benefit me and my own”, my own being the people from “working class” backgrounds who “got in”. That, and because I for one, don’t believe in striving for mediocrity.”

    Raven

    You are correct by saying the above you are not talking intellectual garbage, but you miss my point entirely, you were one of the lucky ones who managed to get through the selection process and you made the most of your opportunities, good on you for doing so. But you must have known other youngsters who were at school with you who did not, for a host of reasons, managed to get to a grammar school but they were as equally bright as you.

    I am not in-favor of striving for mediocrity, far from it in fact, what I wish to see is all children being offered the same opportunity to develop as human beings and live a fulfilling life. If they are not academic then there should be other options beyond a sink school, if they are, then children should within reason be allowed to develop their intellectual capabilities at their own pace and not have their life chances cut off at 11 years old.

    Best regards

  • The Raven

    Actually, Garibaldy, it isn’t my phrase at all.

    It was a phrase used by a much-respected English teacher, and he used it about the introduction of the GCSE.

    When he used the phrase, in Nineteen Eighty-I-don’t-care-to-remember-which-year, he then went on to discuss how the A-level would be next, and that if it were not, we would see the rise of home-coaching, in the same way we did for the 11-plus. The same conversation then went into a discussion about how ultimately (and I use his words here) the “right-on lefties” who invented the GCSE would then start gunning, in earnest, for the grammar schools.

    He was from the Gorbals, by the way.

    The argument, which I think if you go back to one of my posts was this: why are we aiming to dumb down grammar schools, instead of improve less-well performing ones?

    By the way, I was interviewing for staff today. We didn’t once look at their 11+ results.

    Mick H

    There were plenty of kids at my school who did not pass the tranfer test. I don’t know where all of them are, but I see a fair few of them about the place. Strangely, none of them are failures either…despite having gone to comprehensive schools…

  • Reader

    Mick Hall: I for one am one of those who believe the middle classes should start doing their share of the heavy lifting, after all generations of working class people have done more than their share with very little in return; and as far as Im aware in the past they never complained about their taxes paying for middle class children to attend university when their own were excluded due to selection..
    Good grief – where to start? If the working classes are doing their share of the heavy lifting in involvement in education, then why are they not better represented on PTAs? Why is it *assumed* that the new comprehensives will be better taught, managed and nurtured than the current secondaries? What’s the new magic ingredient? If you want a class analysis of the situation, then at least admit where we are now, and what you want us all to do.
    The university stuff is also guff. The working classes aren’t the main contributors to tax, and the old grant system meant that they were the greatest beneficiaries of grants. (I spent my first year on minimum grant, then the next two on maximum, due to a change of family circumstances – the grant was means tested). There is still means testing now – adults are being discriminated against because of their parents’ income. So guess – is it wealthier or poorer families that are being penalised?

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    GCSEs did represent a dumbing down. But were introduced not by trendy lefties but by the delectable Mrs T, to disguise what she was doing to kids’ education by cutting their schools’ funding as well as stealing their milk previously.

    As for the 11 plus and interviewing – the chances, educational, career and financial, of the candidates was determined to a large extent by the results of that exam.

    Again, this is not about dumbing down at the top, but maximising the oppotunities of all.

  • The Raven

    As for the interviewing…well, today was for a middle management post; technical work.

    Guess what? Two are from a grammar school background – three are comprehensive. All have GCSEs, bar one who has O-levels, all have A-levels, all have degrees, all have the three years experience we were looking for.

    Go figure. Looks like all five maximised their opportunities… Hold on, I’m just writing up some of the scoring we did today…must remember to write “failure” on the chap from the comprehensive school that we gave the job to…

  • Garibaldy

    Raven,

    There are no comprehensives due to the 11+. Just state secondary schools. Was he or was he not branded a failure at the time of the 11+?

  • “Good grief – where to start? If the working classes are doing their share of the heavy lifting in involvement in education,”

    raven,

    You know that is not what I said nor meant, so as time is tight I must with draw from this debate, perhaps we can carry it on at a latter date, for now I must attend my Turkish lesson.

    all the best.

  • kensei

    Raven

    Anecdotal evidence is completely worthless, particularly when there are a vast number of actual statistics bandied about here about what typically happens to those the system leaves behind.

    The idea that no one can succeed unless they are in a Grammar is clearly a Straw Man.

  • The Raven

    Garibaldy – my apologies for using the incorrect word. I have no idea about his erstwhile failure status. But he got the job today. No failures there… He took the opportunities that were offered to him, and lo and behold, did just fine.

    Mick Hall – I think you will find that Reader wrote that. Address your concerns to him on that point.

    Kensei – I only say it like I see it. Also, I take that the Straw Man comment was aimed at someone else, as I don’t believe I said that no-one can succeed unless they are in a grammar. Thank you for your input.

  • Steve

    The Pig in the pile is the underlying prejudice that some how Education is the same as inteligence or that an edjucation makes you better than the less educated.

    In Canada when I was in high school we had the exact same prejudice and it was considered a failure not to go on to university just so you can add silly little letters behind your name. Now I percieve a change, the trades or vocations are being pushed as there is a growing shortage of workers and these jobs allow greater financial rewards than being an accountant. You could improve the economy of your own country as plumbers and electricians add value to the economy, what value added work does a solicitor do?

  • Steve

    Crikey my spelling is all over the board today. Must be the meetings with the government safety officers and bureaucrats hev put my brain to sleep

  • 0b101010

    Hogan summarised the only possible outcomes perfectly. One way or another, by ability or by income, there’s going to be selection.

  • kensei

    The Raven

    Kensei – I only say it like I see it. Also, I take that the Straw Man comment was aimed at someone else, as I don’t believe I said that no-one can succeed unless they are in a grammar. Thank you for your input.

    Apparently you are unaware of what a Straw Man argument is. You are currently very effectively knocking down the argument that says no one can succeed unless they went to a grammar. Unfortunately, no one is making it.

    Anecdotal evidence remains worthless in the face of huge amounts of research.

    Thank you for your input but unfortunately it’s mostly content free. Have a nice day.

  • willowfield

    The grammars won’t be destroyed.

    They will continue, either using their own entry tests, or as private institutions.

    So all Ruane’s attempted reforms will achieve is to restrict access to grammar schools for children from low-income families.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ken,

    Is that huge amount of research also anecdotal or can we have some links? 😉

  • gram

    It’s obvious that the pro selection lobby perceive grammar schools to be better schools than non-grammar.

    If this percepton is infact true, I’m not convinced it is, and if a school is performing poorly is it not the job of the department of education address?

    The pro selection lobby automatically assume that the removal of selection will result in the adoption of similar problems to those of the worst English comprehensives and selection of schools on the basis of wealth. This again is nonsence as the demographics of the Uk are not comparable to NI.

    In addition we start from a much stronger base. Historically teaching jobs in NI have had a high status and recruited candidates of high calibre. Unless we suddenly experience a Celtic tiger like industrial revolution this will continue to be the case. (Kent for example is holding open days in Befast to recruit teachers.)

  • kensei

    Mick

    Is that huge amount of research also anecdotal or can we have some links? ;-

    Knock yourself out: http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/issues/education/selection/mainreport.pdf

    Taking account of the point above, the analysis suggests that the
    difference in GCSE performance (as measured by total GCSE points
    21
    score
    ) is largely explained by a ‘grammar school’ effect. That is, other
    things being equal, the most important factor for a pupil in achieving a high
    GCSE score is achieving a place in a grammar school. To put it another
    way, if we compare two pupils, one of whom is in a grammar school and
    one of whom is in a secondary school, and who are similar in every other
    respect, including Transfer Grade, then the grammar pupil will achieve a
    significantly higher GCSE performance.The analysis suggests that being
    in a grammar school adds almost 16 GCSE points, equivalent to three
    22
    GCSEs at grade C, to a pupil’s achievement at 16 years
    .

    Alternatively, Mick, I suggest googling “Slugger O’Toole” and searching that site for any of the approximately 8 billion education threads started in the past year or so. Funny thing, the guy who started those threads has the same name as you.

  • Star of the County Down

    Don’t think it’s already been posted:

    Derry school to ignore minister

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7360435.stm

  • slug

    Ken that differential could be explained by different motivation or background of those selecting grammar schools v those not.

  • kensei

    slug

    Ah, so if the “they are thick” argument doesn’t work, we can move onto “they are lazy”.

    I am reminded of a passage in Hagakare “..in large part we make our logic according to what we like.”. The facts remain: secondary attainment is appalling. We should note at this junction that if the secondaries fail by failing to motive their students, that is still failing.

  • The Raven

    I know you arrived a bit late at this thread, though I note you came fully armed with the usual “no-one can succeed in an argument unless they are kensei” attitude.

    It’s actually not the point I was making. In fact the notion of who succeeds and who doesn’t was made by many others first.

    By way of helping you, my original point was merely that this whole process will only mean the dumbing down – actually no, scrub that… It will only mean that grammar schools will be brought to heel, and that those who can succeed within a grammar school environment, such as it is, will be left worse off, as, as far I and many other parents can see, the issue of how secondary schools will cater for those kids has not been addressed.

    I know anecdotal evidence is not to your liking. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence is all most of us have. Certainly, when it comes to a parent making a choice about next year’s education, that’s all they have. It appears Minister Ruane is unable to “provide a link” (for us to “knock ourselves out”) that will take us to her proposals as to what will follow the post-transfer test era.

    Maybe you could help her there…

    I thought this debate may have been about what’s best for our kids. I note after listening to the calls into Nolan (shudder…I got caught in the car again), and to the texts coming into Karen Patterson’s shift on the radio this evening, it appears to have descended into class conflict.

    And I don’t mean first form versus second form on the playing fields after school.