“we can all bring out experts..”

Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd and the DUP’s Edwin Poots were on Hearts and Minds tonight discussing the vexed issue of post-primary transfer. The recent Catholic Heads Association [CHA] statement featured heavily with John O’Dowd claiming that the Association are now “opposing the Catholic Bishops” [Excommunicate them! – Ed] – I suspect he had Bishop Donal McKeown in mind. But here’s a question, with the Education Minister threatening to press ahead into the vacuum in the absence of political consensus on the way forward, why describe the degree of consensus that apparently exists between the DUP and the CHA as “a wee bit startling, if not shocking”? And I’d suspect that consensus could include the Association for Quality Education.. So much for political reality..

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  • Essentialist

    It seems that the DUP have quietly adopted the AQE policy on tests for grammar school admission and are attempting to pass it off as their own homework.

    Unfortunately for Mervyn Storey and the slow learners of the DUP AQE is simply a facade for the GBA, the Governing Bodies Association of Voluntary Grammar Schools, the majority of whom are the Catholic Grammar Schools i.e The Catholic Heads Association.

    So a confusion has bubbled to the surface. AQE have announced a test and published a specification which has been circulated to primary schools. Thirty grammar schools claim to be intent on using the AQE test. As of yesterday, no Catholic grammar had committed to use the AQE test. The Catholic Heads Aoociation announcement of support for the CCEA test ( as yet undeveloped )has created the ultimate challenge.

    Which test will be chosen to unite the grammars? The “unregulated” AQE test or the “regulated” CCEA test? Answers on a postcard to Caitriona Ruane.

    The public have an uncritical trust of regulation.

    The DUP couldn’t negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag. It seems their St. Andrews triumph is about to result in disaster for thousands of pupils and their longsuffering parents

  • ??

    The DUP couldn’t negotiate their way out of a wet paper bag. It seems their St. Andrews triumph is about to result in disaster for thousands of pupils and their longsuffering parents
    Posted by Essentialist on Oct 23, 2008 @ 10:39 PM

    …….

    so no blame for the incompetent minister of education then? Parents want to keep academic selection btw

  • The Raven

    Some parents, you mean…

  • Driftwood

    Any decent middle class parent wants to keep academic selection. The alternative is horrific.

  • Lets talk

    Is anyone else watching lets talk at the moment?

    Talking an apalling piece of television. Shabby camera work, shabby panel, it looks like carruthers is losing control with all these butt-ins.

    Oh and didnt we all feel a little squirmish when your guy Andrew was talcked by O’Dowd. Anyone who doesn’t win a skirmish with that mess O’Dowd doesn’t exactly send out a good image of his capability. Ah well, he was crap just like the whole program.

  • Essentialist

    The Minister for Education has set out her stall quite clearly. Noone can complain that they are unaware of her intention to impose comprehensive schooling via the removal of academic selection. She is simply a convenient face to vent on. O’Dowd, Kelly, Adams, Gildernew; the Sinn Fein face doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is the move towards compromise by the political parties who claimed opposition to the removal of academic selection and the preservation of a reliable and valid method of determining entry into grammar schools.

    I merely point out that when the possibility of compromise is raised the losers are those who move towards the comprehensive model. Many grammar school heads have demonstrated willingness out of self interest or self preservation including many non-Catholic schools.

    How can anyone promote a CCEA test that hasn’t been developed unless you know that it will have no purpose other than to be “regulated”?

    Touching the tar baby of a three year phase out of academic selection shows the ineptness of the DUP leadership. They deserve criticism.

  • Essentialist

    The Minister for Education has set out her stall quite clearly. Noone can complain that they are unaware of her intention to impose comprehensive schooling via the removal of academic selection. She is simply a convenient face to vent on. O’Dowd, Kelly, Adams, Gildernew; the Sinn Fein face doesn’t matter.

    What does matter is the move towards compromise by the political parties who claimed opposition to the removal of academic selection and the preservation of a reliable and valid mrthod of determining entry into grammar schools.

    I merely point out that when the possibility of compromise is raised the losers are those who move towards the comprehensive model. Many grammar school heads have demonstrated willingness out of self interest or self preservation including many non-Catholic schools.

    How can anyone promote a CCEA test that hasn’t been developed unless you know that it will have no purpose other than to be “regulated”?

    Touching the tar baby of a three year phase out of academic selection shows the ineptness of the DUP leadership. They deserve criticism.

  • the future’s bright the future’s orange

    ‘The Minister for Education has set out her stall quite clearly. ‘

    Ha ha, that’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in years…
    Why does she never appear on H&M;herself these days? because she is totally imcompetant perhaps?

  • ??

    #

    Some parents, you mean…
    Posted by The Raven on Oct 23, 2008 @ 11:11 PM

    a majority of parents have been shown to be in favour of selection. What ever happened to choice?

  • Essentialist

    TFBTFO
    Consider your spinal cord reflex reaction to the Sinn Fein minister. She is merely the lightning rod for policy developed by educationalists from all communities. Their common characteristic is that they are unelected and seemingly unaccountable. Stay focussed on the crucial issue. Equality of opportunity to seek a place in a grammar school is to be replaced by equality of result i.e. all schools admissions are to be without reference to academic ability. Comprehensive education.

    Ask yourself why this is continuously referred to as a political problem. Perhaps it is because the future of the pathetic D’Hondt Assembly arrangements are of more concern than the educational needs of children.

    The revised (reviled) curriculum has robbed many young children of the right to be taught early how to read spell and write. Numeracy and Literacy problems will only increase as long as this curriculum remains in place. Note that it was CCEA who produced this curricular nonsense along with the Pupil Profile and the, as yet undeveloped, new 11-plus test.

    Unionist politicans hold the key. Caitriona Ruane will actively allow a descent into education chaos. Unionist representatives must not concede on this blackmail attempt by touching a “compromise”

  • Comprehensive education, or selection at 14? I don’t think that’s clear either.

  • willis

    “I merely point out that when the possibility of compromise is raised the losers are those who move towards the comprehensive model. Many grammar school heads have demonstrated willingness out of self interest or self preservation including many non-Catholic schools.”

    So who are the winners?

    At this point if HMG took back education, imposed a Dickson Plan type system, and properly funded school rationalisation, there would be a collective sigh of relief that at last Mummy and Daddy had sorted out the mess.

  • dosser

    Poots versus O’Dowd?

    Was the debate prefixed with ‘Dumb and Dumber’?

  • Essentialist

    A collective sigh of relief from whom Willis?

    You wouldn’t be slighting the Mummy and Daddy collectives such as the AQE who claim to represent parental views but find those views conveniently inherited via a letter template in their child’s schoolbag written by teachers and headmasters.

    Lets not even go to the “selection v election” at 14 debate. As to funding; Northern Ireland’s education funding is the greatest in these islands.

    The “winners” are those who seek to remove a choice from parents and pupils while retaining their self interests.

    They don’t like it up ’em you know Willis!

  • John East Belfast

    Nobody has ever given me an explanation as to why all the smart kids have to go the same school.
    Smart kids for specific subjects in the same class ok – but the same school ?

    My son goes to Campbell College – having gone there with a B2 and has just done superbly in his GCSEs – much better than most of his A Grade friends who went to Grammar School.

    The debate about academic selection is fundamentally false.
    It has nothing to do with academic selection and all about social selection.
    As driftwood’s comment above highlights

    “Any decent middle class parent wants to keep academic selection. The alternative is horrific”

    Basically such parents dont want their children mixing with the Gobshite underclass who make teachers’ and other pupils’ lives hell. Take teachers strike in Movilla for instance – sounds like a lot of teachers are at the end of tehir tether.

    And there is nothing wrong with that in one sense – such parents want what is best for their children.
    However it condemns 75% of the populace to mediocrity.

    The bottom line will be that if you are middle class and third level educated yourself your kids have a much better of chance of passing the 11+ than those from – for instance the Shankill Road. I am taking my youngest daughter through the last 11+ at the minute and the ability for me to coach her as well as paying £20 a week for another tutor is giving her an advantage.
    You would have to be a genius to get an A in the 11+ if you were brought up in a sink housing estate.

    However until we start being honest about why people want academic selection then we wont tackle the real causes of the problem.

    I believe there should be a two tier education system.
    One for those who want to attend schools were there is zero tolerance to discipline, lessons, respect for teachers etc and another for those who wont.

    ie Enforce “grammar school” standards within one secondary sector and anyone who is disruptive goes somewhere else.

    At the minute the Middle Classes are getting a standard of education all for themselves on the cheap.
    However if you remove from the system the tyoe of pupil they fear then they wouldnt care if the school had a mixture of academic abilities – just like the parents in Campbell College.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi JEB,

    “Nobody has ever given me an explanation as to why all the smart kids have to go the same school.
    Smart kids for specific subjects in the same class ok – but the same school ?”

    I’m surprised this needs spelt out. Peer pressure tends to drive the grammar kids to excellence. You don’t usually find kids who are brilliant at matchs but useless at say history. Plus that would be a nightmare to timetable for.

    Not many people support the 11+. The debate is about selection and the rights/wrongs of it. Would you be OK with a test that selected on ability that could not be coached – like an IQ test? That’s what most people want.

    On your other point you mention removing disruptive pupils. What you fail to mention is that sometimes very intelligent kids are disruptive because they are bored with the mundane lessons that are of no challenge. Remember lots of teachers wouldn’t have been top of the class when they were at school. As an example, Einstein was expelled from school.

  • Congal Claen

    Maths btw, not matchs… ;0)

  • dunreavynomore

    could hardly believe my ears when o’dowd implied that the cha were ignoring the catholic bishops! s.f. used to believe that ignoring bishops was just the thing to do! does o’dowd really want head teachers to take their educational policies from the bishops? if so is it not time that that s.f. developed an’outreach programme’ for nationalista and republicans who do not takes their politics from the bishops and where does this leave their existing ‘outreach programme to unionists?’

  • lamh dearg

    Essentialist,

    “The Minister for Education has set out her stall quite clearly”

    What happens in 3 years time (after the CCEA test lapses and there is no academic selection)?

    How does an oversubscribed secondary school decide which children get in and which don’t?

    She has never explained that.

  • willis

    “On your other point you mention removing disruptive pupils. What you fail to mention is that sometimes very intelligent kids are disruptive because they are bored with the mundane lessons that are of no challenge.”

    That is true, but I doubt it is a major problem post 11.

    “I believe there should be a two tier education system.
    One for those who want to attend schools were there is zero tolerance to discipline, lessons, respect for teachers etc and another for those who wont.”

    That is how I see it also JEB.

    Whithin East Belfast, Ashfield has gained a reputation for firm but fair discipline and it has done wonders for it’s reputation and intake. However it also has the advantage of not having a Grammar School next door.

  • John East Belfast

    Congal

    I think you are way over estimating peer pressure in grammar schools – teenagers dont think like that – I have 4 kids two of whom are teenagers

    As I say explain Campbell College to me which is Northern Ireland’s only real comprehensive.

    All kids have different abilities – some maths & science some languagues, some the arts, some music, some sports etc – I think the difference between these – even in a grammar school is striking and gets time tabled effectively from 4th Form anyway.

    A school should identify and bring out the best in every child and applaud it.

    Condemning 75% of the populace at 11 as failures and then condemning them to spend the next five years of their lives with people who will eventually end up in Prison is a national scandal in this place.

    Remove the problem children from our schools and educate the rest together.

  • Steve

    Congal

    I went to a highschool in Canada that all types of students good bad and indiferent. The students and their parents chose what classes they took.

    they would have four streams like

    Math 100 normal highschool math
    Math 101 for the mathmatically challenged
    math 103 for the math incompetent
    math 105 advanced math for people with a gift

    we all mingled in the halls and there was very little judging going on but the key is the student chose which course they took

    But of course we were also from all different social stratas My dad ran a digger and I would be sitting next to the daughter of a doctor or lawyer

    Its probably why we don’t have the social stratification some do

  • willis

    JEB

    “As I say explain Campbell College to me which is Northern Ireland’s only real comprehensive.”

    I’m afraid not John. Unless you were having a jest.

    I’m on your side really but there is no way you can make that claim.

    1. Where are the girls?
    2. Where are the poor kids?

    Comprehensive has to have a meaning.

  • willis

    “Math 100 normal highschool math
    Math 101 for the mathmatically challenged
    math 103 for the math incompetent
    math 105 advanced math for people with a gift”

    Love it

    Can we organise a

    Negotiation 103 for our esteemed leaders on the hill?

  • John East Belfast

    willis

    Comprehensive in the mixed academic ability sense – ie the point I am making is there is no justification for academic selection.

    sex, religion and social segregation are different issues – we are talking about the merits or otherwise of the 11+

  • willis

    JEB

    Yes, really no argument that selection by a biased test at 11 is no way to run an education system.

    The real problem is what to do with the 10 – 20% who cause disruption.

    A Comprehensive system will work ok with kids who are not very smart as long as they want to learn.

    That is why the Movilla situation is so important.

    I really believe that we have gone too far in treating parents and children as consumers in an Education marketplace.

    Maybe the “credit crunch” will make some other changes in behaviour.

    I was very impressed by this comment on a BT thread:

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/parents-of-school-strike-boy-tell-of-tragic-background-14008857.html

    I have a neice who is a teacher in Canada. She at present has mostly refugees in her class, these children, she tells me, who have every reason to “act up” having survived genocide, torture, rape etc., are better behaved in class than her Canadian pupils – some have no family left at all, and watched all this happen, yet they are so glad to be in a free country and very respectful and would never dream of treating a teacher with such disrespect. Perhaps our “normal” children get too much their own way these days, and really don’t know when they are well off. I support the teachers in this case, and the solution,to the further education and well being of this boy, should lie with his parents. they are the ones who should be looking out for him and his “issues”. Sorry to “vent” but it makes me mad when I think of these other poor children alone in the world through no fault of their own

  • No BS Parent

    The 11-plus is a test for entry to grammar school. Those who wish to attend secondary school should have no interest in abolishing the test. Those wishing to destroy grammar schools must destroy the method of selection hence the attack on coaching,stress, etc.

    Please point to a better method of selection otherwise admit your attack on the 11-plus is ideological rather than an improvement.

    If you like the Canadian system – move to Canada.

  • willis

    No BS parent

    “Please point to a better method of selection otherwise admit your attack on the 11-plus is ideological rather than an improvement.

    If you like the Canadian system – move to Canada.”

    Not sure if you were directing your comments to me or Steve.

    I like the Dickson system. I suppose I could move to Armagh or Tandragee.

    I genuinely do not oppose the 11+ on ideological grounds.

    I believe in academic selection at 14.
    I believe 11 is too soon to make a decision.
    I believe that approx 60% of students would benefit from a “Grammar School” education.

    John East Belfast’s points are well made by someone who has real experience of a “Grammar School” with a comprehensive intake.

    I’m not sure what the BS in your nom-de-guerre implies. Maybe you could tell me.

  • No BS Parent

    Willis upon what grounds do you oppose the 11-plus?

    It has not escaped the notice of mums like me that almost every pro-grammar spokesperson starts their first sentence with ” we agree that the 11-plus must go”

    What do these people propose takes its place? A nod and a wink from the teacher as we used to have? That will be a clear step backwards.

    What school will pupils attend at 11 Willis while you hold on to the “selection at 14” ideal?

    By your own definition a local comprehensive school for all unless you propose that the well off attend the “grammar” and to hell with the rest.

    BS a la Palin stands for bull excrement. I thought it apt since there is so much spead around by education “experts”

    You clearly haven’t thought this through

  • John East Belfast

    No BS Parent

    Why do you think it is so important that kids are streamed in different schools as opposed to being subject and class streamed in the same school ?

    As I can testify the latter works perfectly in Campbell College.

    As you say let’s cut the Bull Shit – you favour Grammar Schools because you want your kids segregated from a particular type of kid but you are perfectly happy for 75% of the rest of the kids to deal with that.

    It has got nothing to do with academic selection – that is the real Bull Shit. It is social selection and if the debate was honest we might actually start to tackle the real problem and that is the minority of children who for whatever reason should not be in the mainstream sector at all. However at present all of those kids are in the Secndary sector. It is then a viscious circle with the middle classes doing all in their power to maintain the system to keep their children apart.

    What annoys me is the Pro Grammar school lobby is so dishonest about their true motives and they seem to constnatly be let off in the debate.

    No Bullshit Parent – come on cut the bull shit and be honest – you dont want your children in the same school as the gob shites ??

  • willis

    No Sarah Palin Parent

    “Willis upon what grounds do you oppose the 11-plus?”

    I don’t want to be rude but are you slow on the uptake or disingenuous?

    I spelled it out.

    “I believe in academic selection at 14.
    I believe 11 is too soon to make a decision.
    I believe that approx 60% of students would benefit from a “Grammar School” education.”

    “You clearly haven’t thought this through”

    You think not?

    You could trawl back through the Slugger Archives and check out my contributions.

    You will see that I am not a looney-tunes advocate of a Bog Standard Comprehensive for all.

    I went to a really good provincial Grammar School.

    Our kids went to one of the best Grammar Schools in Northern Ireland.

    However I am an engineer working in an industry that takes people with a variety of qualifications and I can see how people develop at different speeds.

    So you are a mum wanting the best for your kids. I don’t have a problem with that.

    If you have kids in P6 or 7 right now you have my sympathy. The Minister is out of her depth.

    I want to see an education system on NI which delivers quality education for all.

    Don’t kid yourself, the Grammar Schools are not the best schools in NI.

    The best schools in NI are the ones that take kids rejected by the 11+ and turn them into high achievers.

  • willis

    Sarah Palin

    “What do these people propose takes its place? A nod and a wink from the teacher as we used to have?”

    And when was that then? Pre 1948?

    The 11+ has been with us for 60 years.

    But please….

    You know soooo much more.

  • No BS Parent

    Willis. it is a pity that you have resorted to attacking me when I pose questions you find difficult to answer.

    Your kids went to a grammar school – how were they admitted except by taking the 11-plus. Unless of course they attended Campbell College where a nice wad of cash means that a D grade instantly makes the boy different from the great unwashed. Same applies to Inst.

    Don’t lecture me on BS since i’ve just been treated to a hugh heap of it and it stinks really bad.

    I’m still waiting for your honest reply on what you want to replace the 11-plus with.

    Once upon a time when kids were considered “borderline” on the 11-plus it was left up to the teacher to make a determination on who got recommended to attend the grammar. More often than not it was a case of who you knew that got you in. It seems we’re headed back to that system.

    If I have read you correctly Willis you favour internal selection at 12 but not the 11-plus and selection at 14 from comprehensives. How confused are you?

  • willis

    NBSP

    “Willis. it is a pity that you have resorted to attacking me when I pose questions you find difficult to answer.”

    I am sorry if you find it an attack, but I am afraid that when I continually explain myself and you continually say I am not answering your questions I begin to wonder who it is who has the problem.

    Let me ask you a question then.

    What is wrong with the Dickson plan? It is a Northern Irish solution to a difficult problem. It has worked for 30+ years.

  • No BS Parent

    You do realise that it relies on the availability of the choice for a grammar school at age 11 as well as age 14. You propose to remove the choice at age 11 just like Caitriona Ruane. She intends to remove all choice.

  • willis

    “You do realise that it relies on the availability of the choice for a grammar school at age 11 as well as age 14.”

    What is it? The Dickson Plan?

    I’m glad Ms Ruane has explained her plans to you. She has left everyone else in the dark.

  • No BS Parent

    Isn’t it the Dickson Plan you were talking about? Dickson area parents have always been able to opt out just as parents could opt out of the 11-plus. If Dickson was the model answer it would have been rolled out years ago. Why do you propose silly answers – explain how Dickson would work in Derry or Belfast with their high proportion of grammars?

    Now what about the performance on Let’s Talk by the Institute of Directors rep. She was talking about the pupil profile as the way of deciding transfer decisions. Note my earlier post on BS.

    From your own experiences you have had an opportunity from grammars = what is wrong with retaining that choice for others? Even ruane had that choice!

  • willis

    Oh so you can opt out of the 11+ and have the choice of a Grammar School?

    How does the Dickson Plan ‘rely’ on a choice of Grammar at 11. Do you mean that it would never have been accepted by Unionists if the opt-out clause had not been there?

    I have come around to the Dickson Plan as the best option for compromise between the two main blocks of opinion. It has broad acceptance from DUP.

    I’m afraid I have never put much store by the IoD especially on labour relations matters.

  • Essentialist

    Much less education matters.

    Compromise is neither possible nor achievable without loss/surrender of the principal of academic selection. I am interested in your claim that ” It has broad acceptance from DUP” I would suggest that you’re engaging in a bit of wishful thinking hoping that the DUP will be suckered into adopting a compromise cobbled together by those BS merchants responsible for creating the mess.

    You still haven’t answered the question Willis “…on what you want to replace the 11-plus with.”

    AQE test or some nonexistent CCEA test? Pupil profile or INCAS?

    If no test you’re a comprehensivist.

    I think Essentialist has got it right here but am willing to be proved wrong.

  • willis

    No I’m a “selection at 14ist”

    When I say “broad acceptance by the DUP” I mean that in the Dickson Plan area the DUP are broadly happy with it.

    “I think Essentialist has got it right here but am willing to be proved wrong.”

    Is it not a bit weird to praise yourself in the third person?

  • Essentialist

    No stranger than claiming to support academic selection but only at 14. SF and SDLP oppose academic selection but it operates successfully on the Falls Road in the shape of St. Dominics. That NBSP tied you in knots Willis. Just answer her question.

  • willis

    I did.

  • willis

    Although to be fair, I do realise that it was not the answer she wanted so she just kept asking the question over and over.

    Tied in knots? You are having a laff.

  • Essentialist

    So you are an admitted comprehensivist. The answers you gave NBSP are anti-academic selection.

    Your statement ” I believe that approx 60% of students would benefit from a “Grammar School” education.” is the laff.

    Have you ever looked at the exam results from comprehensives? Perhaps you’re one of those who don’t like quantitative assessment too

  • No BS Parent

    I can smell the crap coming through my computer every time Willis posts his conflicted views. I’m still trying to get over his citation of Campbell College as representative of anything other than moneyed privilege. Newton Emerson is a fan of the Dickson Plan but even he admits the impracticality of rolling it out across the whole of N. Ireland. Willis must be taking the piss. Maybe he’s a school teacher?

  • willis

    Oh dear Oh dear!

    Being reduced to personal abuse is always an indication that you are losing the arguement. However to be fair you have cited Sarah Palin as an influence.

  • willis

    “Newton Emerson is a fan of the Dickson Plan but even he admits the impracticality of rolling it out across the whole of N. Ireland.”

    Good, now we are getting somewhere.

  • willis

    I read Newt’s irish News piece and liked this quote about the impracticality of rolling it out across the whole of N.I.

    “Or perhaps the Dickson Plan’s truly unforgivable sin is to call its key set of exams the 14-plus, which sounds far too much like the 11-plus for our crusading educationalists to stomach.”

  • Essentialist

    Willis,
    Are you one of Newt’s ” crusading educationalists ”?

    You are certainly wandering all over the place in your quest to vanquish the 11-plus ( or equivalent).

    The Holy Grail for comprehensivisation will remain elusive so long as parents remain alert to the dangers of compromise.

  • willis

    Thank you for a much more elegant reply than #20. I can see you liked the quote, even if you don’t agree with it.

    If we must continue our Medieval theme (That was a laaang time ago y’all) then you have been lucky that your Dragon just sat in one place breathing fire.

  • willis

    On the issue of DUP endorsement of the Dickson Plan.

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/io/noday.htm

    Dickson Plan for Education

    That this Assembly agrees that the Craigavon based Dickson Plan for Education has served the people of Craigavon well; and calls on the Minister of Education to ensure it is preserved in any future arrangements for post-primary transfer.

    [Mr S Moutray]
    [Mr D Simpson]
    [16 September 2008]

    That is both the DUPUpper Bann MLAs

    David Simpson is the sort of politician for whom even the most potty-mouthed atavist might feel respect.

  • Essentialist

    Willis,

    No mention of rolling out the Dickson Plan when it mattered. Perhaps you should cancel plans to move to Canada and find a nice affordable place in Craigavon to run your campaign..

    See http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/education/2007mandate/responses/note.htm

    “A DUP representative on 27 June raised the issue of how we make the transition to the various types of school, e.g. grammar, secondary, specialist schools etc., with the children’s interest at the centre, rather than the various sectors wishing to maintain their particular ethos.

    The individual sectors have been allowed to be the focus in education and the big decision now is that area-based planning should create total equality in education in the interests of the child. Only then would you get a natural resolution of the transfer issue.

    Another DUP representative added that currently there is not sufficient protections in place for the controlled sectors. (more to come on this from the Essentialist)

    The discussion moved on that segregation in our schools costs millions and we need to compromise – yet the various sectors are moving on with rationalisations within their sectors, e.g. CCMS.”……………..

    Have you ever read such nonsense? The 1`1-plus is alive and well. No need to move position when the crusaders provide just heat rather than light in their campaign to steal the ground and to to slay the Dragon.

    Seems to me as if the DUP are sliding towards compromise/ conceding. Not a wise move with the Assembly poised precariously. I wonder if they have adopted Sinn Fein’s equality of outcome/result ideology in order to stay close to the trappings of power while the rest of us feel the harsh bite of reality?

    Area Based Planning decided by ESA’s Gavin Boyd and his “expert” goons. Don’t think so friend.

  • willis

    Thank You Thank You

    What a link.

    On the issue of increased grammar schools enrolments resulting in ‘sink’ secondary schools, the UUP proposed that this would be addressed by such schools becoming specialist schools with a high emphasis for example on pastoral care.

    And you think I am a looney-tune!

  • Essentialist

    Willis.

    You are but one of the many lunatics in the “educationalist” asylum. The only issue for parents is the legal regulated provision of a trusted, objective test used for the post-primary transfer of pupils at age 11 The politicans are bankrupt of ideas – I provided the link to demonstrate same. Your eternal gratitude is welcome however you must realise that only genuine parental choice can save the education system from total chaos

  • willis

    I appreciate that as a parent you take a interest, but for how long? 10-15 years max until the kids are sorted. Your much mocked Educationalists have to take an interest for a lot longer.

    “The only issue for parents is the legal regulated provision of a trusted, objective test used for the post-primary transfer of pupils at age 11”

    Get a grip.

    The only issue for parents is a decent education for their children.

    The 11+ ensures that for 25-30% of children.

    Either you think that the other 70-75% still get a decent education in which case a Comprehensive system isn’t so big a worry or you don’t really care about them as long as your kids are ok. If you are honest enough to say you don’t care then fair play to you but don’t expect to get on your high moral horse to “Educationalists”

    What hacks me off is people who think that High schools do a great job but just for “other people’s children”

  • Essentialist

    Parental interest in education is not some sort of career move or publicly funded hobby. It stems from innate interest in the welfare of ones children and naturally extends beyond.

    Willis surely you must see the irony of admission preference given to the children of teachers and governors? It is undeniably unmerited. Your comment on self-interest speaks for itself.

    You claim “The only issue for parents is a decent education for their children.

    The 11+ ensures that for 25-30% of children.”

    Now with 42% of post-primary pupils attending grammars in Northern Ireland please identify in what way the 12-17% you ignore are failed through grammars?

    I have not made comment on secondary schools since they are a natural complement to grammars. As with grammars some will be good, bad and indifferent. I only rail against so-called “comprehensives” that rely on academic selection to artificially create the impression of all ability intakes. Interestingly all are Catholic or Integrated.

    Perhaps you should direct your energy on to them.

    On “educationalists” the difference between them and parents is that the parents are not taxpayer funded failures.

  • willis

    The 11+ ensures that for 25-30% of children.

    Now with 42% of post-primary pupils attending grammars in Northern Ireland please identify in what way the 12-17% you ignore are failed through grammars?

    I said “ensured”. As far as I know only a A grade (Top 25%) “ensures” you a Grammar School place.

    http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/85-schools/6-admission-and-choice/6-transfer-procedure.htm

    30% of pupils do not take the exam so that 42% of pupils attending Grammar Schools becomes 60% of those taking the examination.

    What was that percentage you mocked?

  • Essentialist

    So what is an A Grade in the 11-plus Willis? Where is the rank order information? Is a pupil who scores highly on the 11-plus and gets an A the same as another who also gets an A but scored closer to the B1 grade boundary?

    “30% of pupils do not take the exam” would be a reference to those who do not wish to seek a place at a grammar school. Once again Willis you attempt to mislead but cannot escape the relentless evidence stacked against your poor argument.

    Perhaps you will also eat some humble pie over your statement “I said “ensured”. As far as I know only a A grade (Top 25%) “ensures” you a Grammar School place.”

    Place a call to the BELB or look up the admissions/applications figures for Grosvenor Grammar School in Belfast and retract yet another mistaken statement.

    Indeed perhaps you should get a copy of Testing the Test from QUB (2000) and read up on the 11-plus transfer test. (written by one of its critics with his fingerprints currently all over the revised curriculum aqssessment arrangements)

    Laff? Mock? Willis it’s time you started doing some homework. Do you have the disposition?

  • willis

    As to my disposition for good honest toil you need have no fears.

    Ok let me try again. If 30% do not seek a place at a Grammar School and 42% overall get a place at a Grammar School then 60% of those who sit the 11+ get a place at a Grammar School.

    Yes or No?

    Actually that would make a good 11+ question.

    Would you pass?

    Or Pass in the Mastermind sense?

  • Essentialist

    Have you got hold of Testing the Test yet Willis?

    42% of pupils attend grammars because the quotients are applied to the entire cohort not just those taking the 11-plus. If this rule were changed then there wouldn’t be the same degree of nonsense of some B, C and D grades getting a grammar school education while others do not. The “grammar effect” adds a significant positive difference to attainment outcomes.

    Open enrolment plays a part also and no school has volunteered to reduce intake.

    DENI and CCEA are responsible for these rules; hence the justified criticism of the educationalists.

  • willis

    Thank You

    Your answer proves all my points.

    “The “grammar effect” adds a significant positive difference to attainment outcomes.”

    Even to grade ‘D’s!

    So who gets to choose which Ds get through?

    If you think “Testing the test” is so devastating to my arguments send me a link to the whole thing.

    I’m liking what I see so far.

  • willis

    Found it.

    http://gtcni.openrepository.com/gtcni/bitstream/2428/6312/1/Testing the Test.pdf

    KEY FINDINGS
    Based on the 1998/1999 Test papers and the large samples used in this study:
    · The Test does not measure a singular attribute of the candidate; it measures three:
    mathematics, English and science. In the same manner that it would normally not be good
    practice to add the marks from GCSE mathematics, English and science tests, their
    addition in the Transfer Procedure Test is questionable.
    · Since the Test does not measure a singular attribute of candidates, it cannot be used as a
    proxy for any particular attribute, for example children’s ability or their potential to
    benefit from a grammar school education. The common perception that it does provide
    some such measure cannot be substantiated by the research.
    · The Tests would be perceived as ‘easy’ by many pupils since more than 65% of them
    answered over 70% of the questions correctly.
    · The ‘easiness’ of the Test is a serious design flaw as children would have been awarded a
    D grade with 70% of the available marks. It is difficult to justify how a perceived ‘fail’
    grade, a D, can be awarded to children who have done so well.
    · With such an ‘easy’ test format, it is very likely that the children will know or will at least
    have a sense of how well they did. The consequences for their self-confidence, of being
    awarded a D for such high scores, has not been assessed in this study but must be
    considered a serious issue.
    8
    · There is evidence that the science section of the Test contributes significantly to the
    ‘easiness’. The average science score for the three tests studied was 19 out of 23 i.e. 83%
    correct compared to 70% for the mathematics and English sections.
    · The lower weighting and relatively high average score in science can lead to disadvantage
    for those who have relatively low scores in the science sections. Despite having the same
    overall Test score to begin with, candidates with low science scores may end up with
    lower final scores (after age adjustment, standardization and weighting) than candidates
    who score relatively more in mathematics and/or English.
    · The three tests were found to be highly reliable, averaging 0.90 against a maximum
    possible of 1.00. However, examination of the Standard Error of Measurement for the
    combined sample for Test1 and Test 2 indicates that a child’s true score2, with 95%
    confidence, will lie somewhere between 10 marks above or below their Test score.
    · The Test works effectively to identify 12% of the candidates as secure A grade candidates
    (scaling up to 2,053 children in the total cohort) and 18% as secure D grade candidates
    (3,099 children). Its capacity to allocate grades accurately to children whose scores lie
    between the score ranges of these groups is highly questionable.
    · The boundaries between the six Test grades (A, B1, B2, C1, C2 and D) cover only 18
    marks out of a total of 150. Within the 95% confidence range (10 marks above or below
    the Test score) the Test therefore has the potential to misclassify pupils by up to three
    grades above or below their given grade.
    · For example, 23% of the candidates (scaling up to 4,487 children in the total cohort) have
    A grade scores up to 10 marks above the score at the A/B1 boundary. Their true grade
    could be an A or depending on how close they are to the boundary, it could be any grade
    down to a C1. Similarly 12% of the candidates (2,148 children) have D grade scores up to
    10 marks below the score at the C2/D boundary. Their true grade could be a D or
    depending on how close they are to the boundary, it could be C2 or a C1. Finally, 33% of
    the candidates (5,818 children) have scores between and including the A and D grade
    boundaries. Grades in the middle of the range, e.g. C1, could be any grade up to A or
    down to D.
    · No consistent pattern of significant differences was found in the mean scores of the
    groups of candidates from the different education and library board areas.
    · The mean scores of the preparatory school candidates were significantly higher than any
    of the other groups characterized by their school management types. There was no
    significant difference between the mean scores of the groups of candidates from the two
    main primary school sectors: controlled and Catholic maintained.
    · The mean score of candidates from schools with high free school meal (FSM)
    entitlements (51%+) was significantly lower than the mean scores of groups from the
    other lower FSM entitlement (<10, 11-30 and 31-50%). The mean score of the group of
    candidates in schools with <10% FSM entitlement was also found to be significantly
    higher than those of other categories for Test 1 and Test 2.

    There is more but I would max out the page.

  • Essentialist

    Now you are on my ground Willis.

    Check out the background of John Gardner of QUB School of Education. What is his area of expertise? A clue …..computers and IT

    Now ask “Who funded this research?”

    Then ask “Why was there only one reference to Testing the Test in the DENI funded Gallagher and Smith research into the selective system of education in Northern Ireland?”

    After all opponents of academic selection railed against the 11-plus endlessly; they still do.

    Why did the DENI or CCEA not publish or apply for a licence to publish the work?

    It shouldn’t take long Willis for even you to figure out that all is not as it seems.

    Take the following:

    “The ‘easiness’ of the Test is a serious design flaw as children would have been awarded a
    D grade with 70% of the available marks. It is difficult to justify how a perceived ‘fail’grade, a D, can be awarded to children who have done so well”

    Note Gardner and Cowan’s citation of Please (1971) in Testing the Test.

    Please identified the problem with measurement and reporting of same and suggested a way of recording it. What did Gardner do except ignore this practical problem.

    John Gardner is one of the key individuals who “sold” CCEA the cop out of Assessment for Learning” to cover up the problems of the DENI/CCEA/NFER adulterated Transfer Test.

    Testing the Test was published in 2000. Eight years later the same 11-plus test is still used. No improvements, alterations, or adjustments. The DENI solution? End the 11-plus. Bury the problem.

    So having authored such a statement John Gardner did what? He promoted a form of description of attainment in schools which ignores assessment of learning and replaces it with assessment for learning.

    A step backwards into the abyss. The descent into chaos hasn’t stopped yet but many of the architects of this disaster have retired or been promoted.

    So where’s the replacement for the 11-plus? Or where are the lawsuits against the “immoral” test for academic selection?

    You can’t have it both ways.

  • willis

    And your point is?

  • Essentialist

    Are you just slow? The culprits for the attack on the 11-plus as a valid and reliable instrument are the very people who are legally responsible for its use. Get rid of the 11-plus and you impose comprehensives while at the same time erasing your failures. Would you care to suggest a different method of differentiated education?

  • willis

    Is this an endless circle? I have. I did.

    Of course I’m not slow. I know that 42/0.7 = 60. Which is a lot more than you have managed.

  • Essentialist

    That’s another 11-plus question you’ve come up with.
    Pity you haven’t been willing/able to discuss the issues of Testing the Test which I pointed you to. Go round in as many circles as you like Willis – like a hamster on a wheel.

  • willis

    The problem with any discussion of “Testing the Test” is your non sequiturs. You asked me to debate “Testing the test” and offered up the quote

    “Indeed perhaps you should get a copy of Testing the Test from QUB (2000) and read up on the 11-plus transfer test. (written by one of its critics with his fingerprints currently all over the revised curriculum assessment arrangements)”

    This gave me some hope that you actually wanted to have a rational debate. Unfortunately you had simply found yet another piece of research which judged the 11+ a poor piece of work.

    I could hardly disagree.

    Tell you what. Find a research document which defends the 11+ (The University of Buckingham is your best bet) then we can discuss something you agree with.

    Sending me research reports which back my arguments up, while very kind, does not make you look very good.

    BTW insulting an academic because his background is in Computers is not going to wash with me. Especially on a blog.

  • Essentialist

    Willis,
    Your persistent simplistic ignoring evidence of the real problems of the 11-plus are staggering.
    If you had read to the end of John Gardner’s Testing the Test you would have come across the technical section. The culprits are identified here.

    ….”Openness

    Many of the difficulties associated with the technical aspects of the Transfer Test have not come to light because access to the necessary information is prohibited.

    This study highlights the importance of openness in high stakes tests such as the Transfer Test. Modern validity inquiry – which interprets all validity as construct-referenced – includes a consideration of the social consequences of testing. Given that significant adverse consequences for individuals can arise from interpreting the grade sequence C2, C1, B2, B1 as a perfect hierarchy, those responsible for designing and administering the Transfer Test have a clear responsibility to admit to the Test’s frailties. This report represents a call for greater openness and accountability in respect of a test which can have a profound effect on a child’s future.

    Clearly, no test is perfect and the Transfer Test’s designers may feel, with some justification, that in order to eliminate misclassifications, they face the impossible task of reducing the standard error of measure to zero. Nevertheless this report calls for information on the Transfer Test and its weaknesses to be conveyed clearly to the public.

    Standards for Test Administration

    … the British examination bodies have always avoided
    the publication of data bearing on the technical fidelity of their assessment instruments. The silence on Transfer Test information in Northern Ireland rings loud when contrasted with the approach taken in just three of the AERA Standards:

    Standard 1.1 (on Validity)

    A rationale should be presented for each recommended interpretation and use of test scores,
    together with a comprehensive summary of the evidence and theory bearing on the intended
    use or interpretation.

    Standard 1.2 (on Validity)

    The test developer should set forth clearly how test scores are intended to be interpreted and
    used. The population(s) for which a test is appropriate should be clearly delimited, and the
    construct that the test is intending to assess should be clearly described.

    Standard 2.1 (on Reliability and Errors of Measurement)

    For each total score, sub-score or combination of scores that is to be interpreted, estimates of
    relevant reliabilities and standard errors of measurement or test information functions should
    be reported.

    The Transfer Test is a high stakes test and Northern Ireland pupils deserve the protection of
    technical fidelity standards which apply to children elsewhere in the world. This report
    demonstrates that the grading has potential for significant misclassification; the
    inference that a pupil with a grade B1, for example, has more ‘ability’ than a pupil graded B2
    simply cannot be validated.

    While testing agencies can be held to
    account for the validity and reliability of their instruments, one could be forgiven the
    impression that British testing agencies are accountable only for their question setting and
    marking. Parents who dispute their child’s Transfer Test grade have recourse to a re-mark
    Parents with more fundamental concerns have no recourse except perhaps to the law.
    However, the secrecy that surrounds the Transfer Test leaves the courts with few options
    other than to assume that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the Test score and the
    child’s ‘ability’.

    Adoption of the Standards would quickly disabuse the courts of this viewand would give test developers, administrators and candidates alike access to powerful evidence if the need arises for them to argue their case.”….

    Spelled out for you Willis in black and white. The Department of Education and CCEA were identified in 2000 as the responsible parties for validity and reliability for the 11-plus. Their solution to the problem? Create an anti- 11-plus hysteria permitting them to end the use of the instrument entirely. Problem solved. Notice how the 11-plus has been used continuously since 2000 without reference to the responsibilities of DENI or CCEA. John Gardner (the computer academic) allowed the criticisms of the 11-plus to be used by anti-selection radicals but stayed silent on the role of CCEA and DENI. In fact he continued to profit from their contract work and was made Head of the School of Education.

    Now Willis if I need to go over this slowly for you I can. BTW did you ever find out about the funding arrangements for the Testing the Test project?

    Keep digging. It’s not the test stupid!

  • willis

    Why do the funding arrangements matter? Non sequitur again.

    You can insult and bluster all you want. You can claim that the whole world is agin’ you. Actually it would appear that the whole education world is against you.

    No wonder you feel so defensive and angry.

    You do some digging for a change. Find some solid academic research which backs up the 11+. Go on.

    What is AQE’s position. Or did you fall out with them as well.

    Are you Stephen Elliot in disguise?