…this cannot become some squalid Orange versus Green argument.

The DUP Education spokesperson, Mervyn Storey, writing in the Belfast Telegraph outlines a means of overcoming the present impasse on education. It proposes a three year interim period while the new means of transfer are agreed. He also makes explicit mention of the Dickson plan:

We support acceptable solutions such as the Dickson Plan. This period could be used to examine the feasibility and resource implications of extending more widely other existing practice.

  • slug

    Orange v green is PRECISELY what Sinn Féin make things. It pleases their voters, see.

  • Mark McGregor

    Anyone I’ve discussed this with including family members, friends and parents at my childrens’ schools all seem very open to the idea of something like the Dickson plan when they hear about it. They all absolutely agree they have no idea what is currently being proposed despite the minister’s claims.

  • slug

    Its a total mess, Mark.

  • ggn

    I think it is a bit late for that now.

    Though I have to admire the horsemanship of the SDLP on the issue.

  • slug

    “I think it is a bit late for that now. ”

    Its not too late as no ACTUAL paper has the agreement of the Executive. And Ruane hasn’t a hope in HELL of getting her plans through. LOL.

  • autocue

    Over the last three or four months the DUP has done a fabulous job at exposing just how grasping, petulant, huffy and quite frankly pathetic Sinn Fein’s current position is.

    “Give me what I want or I’ll scweam and scwean and scweam”

  • Alan

    The issue is not and never has been Orange and Green. It is about making choices about change – about change that can benefit all our children.

    Mervyn appears to be offering the Dixon plan with a number of Academic Specialist Schools. How many Academic Specialist Schools do we need – five or six ? Say 2 in Belfast and the rest spread throughout Northern Ireland with a total intake of around 5000 pupils.

    If that is the level of provision we are talking about, and those schools will focus on sciences, computing, engineering etc which are crucial to our economic needs to a very high spec, then let’s look at it.

    If it is, as I suspect, generalist specialist education, then it is a contradiction in terms and not worth the candle.

  • 6countyprod

    The Dickson (not Dixon) method is an excellent way of assessing the abilities of primary school children, and has been very successful in correctly placing children at their appropriate levels in post-primary education.

    It has worked exceptionally well in the Craigavon area for decades, with very few drawbacks or complaints. It could, and should, be implemented province wide.

  • Mayoman

    I presume 6CP, you have figures to back this up? Two sets of pupils, with similar sociodemographic profiles, +/- the Dickson approach versus attainment in later life? How was the ‘correct placement’ of children measured? What were the criteria that established they were ‘correctly placed’? That is, what actual, meaningful outcomes of the Dickson method have been assessed or reported?

  • edukensei

    aLAN

    Mervyn appears to be offering the Dixon plan with a number of Academic Specialist Schools. How many Academic Specialist Schools do we need – five or six ? Say 2 in Belfast and the rest spread throughout Northern Ireland with a total intake of around 5000 pupils.

    And I’m sure they’ll be very worthy and produce good students, but utterly useless in actually generating the amounts of high quality graduates we actually need. That’s not even counting the inevitable brain drain East or South.

    I have a proposal that might make a difference: give every child a laptop. Given the advent of super cheap subnotebooks, or looking at the one laptop per child project, the cost per pupil would be between £100-200. Peanuts, given the amount of money spent per pupil per year. Once you know every child has one, you can build some teaching around it; not just IT but appropriate software could help with other subjects. Though I would hope every child having a box capable of being programmed would produce some new people good with software in a generation time. But even non-graduate jobs can require familiarity with computers these days, especially word processors, spreadsheets and email.

  • Glencoppagagh

    One problem with the Dickson plan is that a pupil can potentially attend three different schools between age 11 and 18: three years at a junior high school, two years at a senior high school and possibly another two at an FE college.
    The two years at senior high school seems unnecessary.

  • Dewi

    “I have a proposal that might make a difference: give every child a laptop”

    Good thinking !

  • The Raven

    “It proposes a three year interim period while the new means of transfer are agreed.”

    Ergo, it proposes more delay?

  • 6countyprod

    Mayoman,

    Do your own research!

    I’ll give you a hint: http://www.google.co.uk, enter words: dickson plan

    Here is one link to get you started: http://www.deni.gov.uk/rb6_1998.doc

  • Driftwood

    Even if everybody goes along with the Dickson plan, the physical infrastructure would take longer than 3 years to roll out across the province. The falling demographics mean there are going to be more amalgamations and less schools anyway.
    And if we have ministers and committees who can barely stand the sight of each other then the chances of any reform working are remote.

  • Essentialist

    Storey and the DUP appear to have touched the tar baby. The Belfast Telegraph Opinion piece refers to compromise and the possibility of reaching some agreed position that would satisfy all stakeholders. This is impossible without an acceptance of the principle of academic selection a climbdown by the DENI.

    Once the principle has ben conceded by those determined to impose a comprehensive system the status quo 11-plus becomes the standard to be surpassed. The method of selection once again becomes the focus of attention. Notice how the grammar schools spokespeople have all conceded on the 11-plus. Ask yourself why? Try self-interest for a starter.

    On the evening of the Slugger Awards a special prize should be awarded to those who can define a valid and reliable instrument for determining those pupils, by measure of prior attainment, who would benefit from a grammar school education.

    Start with the Lumen Christi NFER intelligence test. This is a retrogressive step since the method was rejected years ago by CCEA as unsuitable. Compare it with the AQE test (ask Sir Ken or any of the 30 schools for a copy) and then decide which of the two is the superior method. Immediately the enormity of the problem becomes clear.

    Mervyn Storey and the DUP are playing a dangerous game. Their clear lack of any detailed policy combined with a lack of understanding of the principles underpinning equality of opportunity may result in yet another disaster for the constituency which voted them into office.

    Unless the proposers of change concede on the principle of academic selection the “War” that Tony Blair warned of on grammar schools will commence. As the Catholic Bishops have aleady discovered to their cost the army they engage in conflict with is PARENTS.

    The DUP need clarity and detail combined with confident resolution to see them through.
    Mervyn Storey’s trial balloon crashed on take-off

  • Ulsters my homeland

    “[i]Orange v green is PRECISELY what Sinn Féin make things. It pleases their voters, see.”[/i]

    slug, why do they bring up their young members to burn Orange Halls? Is it because there is a union jack inside or that the Orangemen buy blue wrappered sausages rather than the green Irish ones in tescos?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    UmH, why do unionists bring up their young people like Nazis? Why do you waste such an incisive intellect on Protestant Telegraph type mush?