“…heading to an abyss “

The four churches have put forward new proposals for education calling for transfer at 14 based on:

“…the use of criteria to access certain courses and pathways at the age of 14 which could include, amongst others, academic criteria.”

It pleads that:

“We ask our politicians and others, to stand back from established positions and to create the space necessary so that, through dialogue between those with different outlooks, the best way forward may be found for all children,”

Whether SF and Catriona Ruane will take up this opportunity remains to be seen. At the DUP party conference it was stated they would be bringing forward new proposals in the coming weeks. In the meantime the Department is promising more guidelines.

  • the future’s bright the future’s orange

    Sounds like a fairly sensible proposal to me. That said, it will take a few years to roll out any new system. Awaiting the Minister’s response…

  • William

    Could one imagine anyone worse than the Ruanator having the future of our children in her hands. She is such an arrogant person, who is not receptive to discussion and is basically dictating that she is going to impose the Sinn Fein ideals.

    Surely it is time for her to be returned to running the Provofest in West Belfast or helping Eco warriors that have escaped from justice in Colombia. As ti her minder…the Herman Munster lookalike, John O’Dowd….does he inspire anyone with his aggressive attitude.

    Provos in Government – Bring back Direct Rule

  • “We ask our politicians and others, to stand back from established positions and to create the space necessary so that, through dialogue between those with different outlooks, the best way forward may be found for all children.”

    I can’t imagine the churches standing back from their own well established positions, positions which ‘facilitate’ apartheid in education.

    Why can’t we have changes all round, changes which, hopefully, would be in the best interests of children – and the state?

  • Driftwood

    it will take a few years to roll out any new system.

    Orange, It will take a lot more than a few. The physical infrastructure, the cultural outlook, curriculum, teacher profiles,and lots more would need a sea change in the way our public sector operates. Not least it would take a functional executive, and some professional leadership. The whole Review of public administration and supposed new education and skills Authority have been characterised by delay and obfuscation.

    Good idea, but i don’t think there is the dynamism to carry it out.

  • Greenflag

    Nevin,

    ‘ I can’t imagine the churches standing back from their own well established positions, positions which ‘facilitate’ apartheid in education’

    Those positions also facilitate ‘cash flow streaming ‘ and ‘market brand’ protection . We forget that the Churches as well as being ‘spiritual ‘organisations , are also financial organisations catering to a large number of employees who might find life more competitive in the ‘real ‘ economy .

    Standard curricula for all schools and let the Churches organise and teach their particular ‘religious brand ‘ outside normal school hours for those children and the parents of said who wish to attend and support such religious instruction.

    The ‘heaven magicians ‘ do not need to be run after by the State .

  • William

    I am surprised that some of those posting are giving the Churches flak about their legitimate proposals, whilst the Ruanator doesn’t merit a mention. This foreign resident [Co. Louth] is the root cause of the current problems in education, as she attempts to impose her left-wing marxist views on the majority of people in Northern Ireland who object to. She is incapable of answering a simple question as to what will happen to P 6 children in November 2009. Is it any wonder those Colleges that have a track record of producing a quality education, are setting up their own exam and not waiting on her destroying the future of our children.

  • ulsterfan

    There is no place for the Churches in our education system.
    Bishops be told to mind their own business.
    We need a secular state in every facet of public life.

  • fin

    oh dear, 2nd post, on a thread regarding education, and we’re off on the IRA. How is anything in NI going to be achieved with the zero sum politics employed by the DUP and posters on slugger, its like a broken record.

    With regards the 11+, it would seem that Ed Balls is not a fan and they will be scrapped in GB in the future. This is not a local issue, and I wonder why people who are slating Ruane are not also slating the govt,who, have shown no more or less leadership than she has. Unless of course the stone throwers are merely indulging in further zero sum politics.

  • Greenflag

    william ,

    ‘This foreign resident [Co. Louth] is the root cause of the current problems’

    The root cause is the sectarian set up of education in Northern Ireland which gives rise to costly duplication and unnecessary extra administrative costs.

    State schools for everybody and let the Churches mind their own business in their own time and at their own cost .

    ‘How is anything in NI going to be achieved’

    Nothing will be achieved until the Northern Ireland State in it’s present format is ‘dismantled ‘.

  • Tony M

    Isn’t it remarkable that Donal McKeown (former Costello member) urges the DUP to move towards his Roman Catholic official position of election at 14 with a claim that he will “provide cover”?

    Has Bishop McKeown or any of the other bright sparks actually costed out the education reform agenda?

    The obvious problem for the Catholic church is the view of parents expressed at St Mary’s College recently.

    The parents want a test. The Church doesn’t.

    Let the battle commence.

  • Gavin B

    William,

    The Direct Rule option may be the best solution.
    The UK government could not reverse the position on academic selection should control revert back to Westminster. The DUP MP’s could claim a victory over the Shinners since at the moment they are inextricably linked keeping the D’Hondt arrangements alive.

    ESA could be abandoned saving masses of taxpayers money and the National Curriculum could apply to the entire UK.

    Brilliant idea William.

    Time to turn the lights out up on the hill.

  • joeCanuck

    I think it’s a good idea too. The kids are going to be streamed one way or another, hopefully dependent on their abilities as well as desires. Selection is fine but I think 11 years is too young.

  • willis

    Selection is fine but I think 11 years is too young.

    Good man Joe, my thoughts precisely.

    This was not such along way for the Catholic Church to travel, but for the Presbyterians to sign up….

    Gosh! the Dickson Plan must be pretty good.

    (Even the DUP like it sssssh!) Don’t say anything to Sammy or Mervyn.

  • Wilfred

    Willis,
    What are you up to old boy?

    I thought You had been told not to let the Dupers know that we were manipulating them with all those nice documents from the GBA.

    You used the word selection instead of election.

    Donal is going to blow a fuse and the Cardinal is liable to be very cross too. Better get Kathryn to help out with a nice little piece in the BellyTele settling down all those anxious parents with their snotty P6 kids now that the Churches have upset them with more confusing statements.

    In the future dear boy make sure you run your posts by the propaganda committee before revealing our well kept secrets to Sluggerites.

    Now go off and write out the school rules twenty times. Otherwise I’ll have to report you to Ken. Goodness knows he may even get the missus involved and that would be quite horrible to contemplate. Pip pip for now.

    Isn’t messing about with education fun?

  • willis

    Dr Mulryne

    As that famous Portora boy might have said

    “To lose one identity is unfortunate, to lose two looks like carelessness”

  • willis

    Ok guys

    I did a short test to see which of the 4 churches did the best job of linking to the joint statement on their websites.

    All links via the BBC link above

    The results are in.

    1. Presbyterians – Link on Home page
    2. Church of Ireland – Link via Press Releases – Attributed to Presbyterian Press Office.
    3. Roman Catholic – Decent site – Could not find it though.
    4. Methodist – Total mess – Can a Methodist please defend it?

  • Wilfred

    Willis
    To which identity does one refer?

    The former head of Methodist College Belfast, the Governing Bodies Association, the Association for Quality Education, the Northern Ireland General Teaching Council, the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment or am I missing a rather more subtle analogy in which you wish to highlight my varying positions on the 11-plus, the pupil profile, computer adaptive testing, transfer at 14 and assessment for learning?

    Surely you should be working on those lines dear boy instead of mischief making over websites?

    The chaps here know what you are about and are not easily distracted by your purile contributions.

    Now Willis I regret to inform you that you have not reached the cut score required to pass your own test of the church press releases and must resit.

    As the Northern Ireland education system heads towards the abyss consider –

    Things alter for the worse spontaneously, if they be not altered for the better designedly. ~Francis Bacon

    Where’s the design Willis? Where are the costings?

  • No BS Parent

    Mr Willis

    While you were navel gazing on the church web sites did you happen to examine the photo in the Newsletter of the church education representatives?There seems to be a distinct lack of agreement on poppy wearing!

    Interesting that all the prods are looking at the Catholic.

  • willis

    Good sensible response from the DUP.

    http://www.dup.org.uk/articles.asp?Article_ID=3907

    “The DUP is fully supportive of the need for some breathing space in order to deal definitively with the transfer issue in the longer term. We are acutely aware though of the particular need urgently for clarity for pupils in Year 6 and their parents and teachers, about what will lie ahead of them over the next year. We strongly concur with the Church representatives on this point.

    The DUP has always maintained that we support locally acceptable solutions for transfer, one of which is selection at 14 in the Dickson Plan area. Outside of the existing time constraints, as part of broader discussion, we would be content to look at the feasibility of extending options such as this to other areas interested in adopting them. However there is no escaping the fact that there would be huge logistical problems with wholesale change on a province-wide basis, not to mention cost implications. The prospect of selection at 14 would raise a myriad of questions, both educational and otherwise.

    We are committed to matching pupils to the most appropriate school on the basis of their individual abilities and aptitudes, but we are always open to discuss the most effective means for doing this.

    As a party we will continue to work with a broad range of stakeholders to find a way through this and so many other outstanding difficulties.”

  • Essentialist

    So glad to hear William Young of Belfast Royal Academy reject the “proposals” by the church education representatives on BBC Radio Ulster this morning.

    At least one grammar school has made the position clear. Mr Young also mentioned the Association for Quality Education so one has to ask “where is the eloquent Sir Kenneth Bloomfield of INST, the omnipresent voice of the disadvantaged?”

    Could it be that once again the desired outcomes of the members are at cross purposes?

    The DUP have made a press statement that raises more questions than it addresses.
    The first and most pressing question is:

    What are their proposals to deal with the transfer at 11 issue?

    Where is the policy guidance on this sentinel St Andrew’s issue?

    For an example of their incoherence deconstruct this.

    “The DUP has always maintained that we support locally acceptable solutions for transfer, one of which is selection at 14 in the Dickson Plan area”

    “The prospect of selection at 14 would raise a myriad of questions, both educational and otherwise.”

    Could the DUP be taking advice from the GBA/AQE? It seems very likely.

  • TRuth

    Academic selection is a necessary part of education. Why else do we have university entrance exams? Selection at 11 for a suitable form of secondary education cannot be justified on any grounds.
    All pupils should attend local integrated, comprehensive junior high schools from 11-14.
    Curriculum should emphasise Literacy, Health,Finance,Life Skills,Personal and Social Development and empower children at 14 to make informed choices for future education courses.

    All positive school achievements 5-14 should be recorded in a manner that provides a formative experience for young people. The summative aspect of such a record can be used as part of the discussion process at 14 as children guided by teachers and parents choose their future course of action.
    In this way Grammar schools are retained-Colleges of Education have an expanded role. Many small towns continue to have secondary provision-albeit 11-14,with a school at the heart of the community.

    These changes offer potential over time to rationalise the school estate and develop the economic rationalisation to meet reduced numbers.

    This solution suits everyone and has at its heart a consideration of what in our political circumstances may be the best educational system we can devise to meet the best needs of our young people.

    One last thing -Catriona should go -on grounds of incompetence alone.-Does she really send her children across the border each day to attend a grammar school in the Northern Ireland which for which she displays such hatred or is it a rumour?

  • willis

    TRuth

    There did seem to be a hint from the DUP that expanding the Dickson Plan in rural areas while leaving Derry and Belfast alone might be a practical way forward.

    Ruane is a very divisive figure, are we really getting nostalgic for McGuinness?

  • Essentialist

    Willis
    It is entirely disingeneous to talk of “hints” from the DUP when you and your friends are providing them with advice and poor advice at that.

    Spare us the protestations. Where is the evidence for your Belfast / Derry idea in the DUP release?

    Your efforts to provide “analysis” reveal your background. There are more leaks in the AQE/GBA than that canoe with the trap door Mervyn mentioned the other day.

  • Wilfred

    The imposition of comprehensive schools had profound consequences for primary education in England. Since the primary school no longer had to coach children to pass the eleven plus, they were free to experiment with different forms of primary education. In particular educationalists experimented with forms of education which were no longer tied to grammar school curricula and which were more “child centered” viz. the CCEA early years enriched curriculum project.

    Education reform in Northern Ireland has been influenced heavily by romantic theorists of childhood like Rousseau and Froebel, and given apparent scientific support by the researches of child psychologist, Jean Piaget. Combine this with an emphasis in Schools of Education on “conflict resolution” leading to something like a “revolution from above”.

    in the field of primary education, with the revolutionary forces of the Education and Training Inspectorate, CCEA, academics and all manner of “experts” in teacher education and the para-educational services seeking to impose the new doctrine on the mass of school teachers and teachers in training the effect has been predictible.

    The proposed abolition of the eleven plus and the installation of a system of comprehensive education should have increased the confidence of the working class in the education system. But the opposite seems to have happened, with all sections, including those in the literate section of the population as well as the more traditional elements of the working class, apparently united in their dissatisfaction with the new regime.

    Above all, there appears to be a deep distrust of the post eleven plus way of educating children. It is evident that the changes have not been explained sufficiently (or, indeed, at all) by their protagonists in the DENI or the various Ministers for parents to understand and accept the new regime in the schools. The explanation is simple – the revised curriculum cannot and therefore will not work.

    This is one factor which has led to the discrediting of teachers as a profession within the population at large.

    While this situation is not entirely of the teachers’ own making, since the revised curriculum revolution has only gone skin deep and most primary teachers continue to practise their trade on fairly traditional lines the silence from teachers is deafening. It is almost as if they are afraid to speak out about their disquiet.

    The levels of inspection, administration, research, teacher-training and advice above the level of the classroom do exercise a disproportionate influence on teachers’ careers, and this influence cannot be discounted.

    There is no consensus about what should go on in primary school classrooms. Very often, the fairly traditional work that goes on is not approved of in teacher-training colleges and in the advisory bodies of the ELBs and the ETI.

    On the other hand, parents very often feel that the education their children receive is not something that they properly understand and they have the obscure but genuine feeling that the children are somehow being sold short. This may be due to some ignorance and a lack of trust on their part, but there is more to it than that.

    If the “revolution from above” has failed to make a full impact on the teachers, it would be surprising if it did on parents, particularly when there has been little or no effort on the part of government to explain to parents the changes that were supposed to be taking place in the schools. Teachers find themselves caught between “progressive” superiors and “traditional” parents, neither of whom fully trust and support them.

    Nonsense from the churches and the Minister only compound the problems.

  • Wilfred

    For context I dug out a report in the Guardian from February 2006.

    As one might expect nothing has changed

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2006/feb/07/schools.grammarschools

    The tug of war cannot be won unless one side gives up. In the interest of pluralism the best answer may be a permanent continuation of a re-branded 11-plus.

    On the eve of the supposed final test I think that those children wishing to take a test should be heard and those claiming to speak in their name who oppose academic selection step back from the abyss that they have been responsible for creating.

    Should push come to shove there will be many educationalists taking a long dive down very soon when the extent of their mistakes are realised.

  • T.Ruth

    Wilfrid
    The system of selection at 11 plus had a damaging and profound effect on primary education.It caused trauma for children and parents. It totally distorted the primary school curriculum. It labelled sixty per cent of the population as failures ,unsuited for a quality education whatever that was conceived to be.It caused a division with “bright” children attending posh grammar schools while secondary schools laboured without success to gain parity of esteem. parents still would send their children to a bad grammar school before choosing an outstanding secondary
    school for their children.

    Over the decades the selection system was changed time and again but failed to work as a predictor of future success because it was an inherently unsound idea that future success could be predicted based on performance in a narrow range of abilities at age eleven.

    Tell me Wilfrid on what moral, social, educational. philosophical maturational or pyschological grounds was age eleven chosen as the correct moment to move to secondary level education.

    Would you support 11-14 Junior high schools as the best resolution of our present difficulties?.

  • Driftwood

    Rolling out the ‘Dickson plan’ across NI is possible, if the will is there. But as a project, it would take a substantial time to happen, and would need to be subject to a lack of local political interference. The cost of establishing the physical infrastructure may be prohibitive.
    I don’t like the idea of religion(s)sticking their oar in to education, but if they can put on a shared front for this little idea, why not go the whole kaboodle and end religious segregation in schools completely. Or would that unsettle their “communities” too much.

  • Essentialist

    It seems that the press conference held by the churches on transfer on 14 may have had more to do with politics than academic research.

    http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/education/2007mandate/education_research.htm

    Perhaps the clerics missed the section that unequivocally states:

    “The most widely cited study of the Craigavon two tier system concluded in 1998 that, while the system has been a success, the evidence did not suggest that it provided a better alternative to the 11+ system used throughout the rest of Northern Ireland. In particular, the study concluded that evidence did not suggest that the two-tier system provides a better educational experience for less able pupils than the 11+ system”

    So is tranfer at 14 a matter of faith over evidence?

  • Wilfred

    ” Tell me Wilfrid on what moral, social, educational. philosophical maturational or pyschological grounds was age eleven chosen as the correct moment to move to secondary level education.”

    Give the Department of Education, CCEA or National Foundation for Education Research a call and ask them to offer a different age.

    How much would junior high schools cost?

  • Essentialist

    ” The Burns and Costello reports which formed part of the review of post primary arrangements supported transfer continuing at age 11 but considered that the first major decision point about learning pathways in a pupil’s education should normally be at age 14.”

    So when did Donal McKeown, a member of the Costello Group, change his mind?

  • Driftwood

    What is an ‘educationalist’?

  • Essentialist

    Driftwood

    Try this one on for size.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/educationalist

    Wickipedia is a firm favourite of William Haire, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education.

    Of course theories are like fingerprints.

  • Essentialist

    Driftwood,

    You may prefer this definition

    http://www.yourdictionary.com/educationalist

    You may add names ad lib from the various stakeholder groups. They are, after all is said and done, the individuals responsible for the chaos.

  • Driftwood

    I wondered who Ruane was referring to when this mysterious group was mentioned. Basically it can be whoever you want it to be. Are teachers educationalists? School caretakers? Pub bores? ex Tennis players?

  • Essentialist

    Driftwood,

    Full marks. You answered the question fully. Many “educationalists” wear multiple hats and have a common characteristic in that they can be relied upon to make the PC utterances to the media on the need for education reform.

    That they have failed miserably to convince the majority of parents and the general public doesn’t worry them since accountability is not a requirement for an educationalist

  • Driftwood

    In the labyrinthine Kafkaesque education bureaucracy, It’s not clear to me who is responsible for what. Ruane keeps saying she is consulting all key stakeholders.

    Is she just muttering inane bullshit and hoping that someone, somewhere has a cunning plan?

  • Essentialist

    It is certainly not Ruane’s cunning plan Driftwood. I have, in other threads, named some of the key players.Pick you favourite from this abridged list.

    Tony Gallagher, Gavin Boyd, Gilly Irwin, Jim Clarke, Michael Wardlow, Wilfred Mulryne, Carmel Gallagher, Ian Ellis, Avril Hall-Callaghan, Robson Davison, Will Haire, Marion Matchett, Finbar McCallion.

    The common characteristic is that they will all deny their accountability.

    A variant of the 11-plus will remain.

  • willis

    Wilf/Mandy

    “ The Burns and Costello reports which formed part of the review of post primary arrangements supported transfer continuing at age 11 but considered that the first major decision point about learning pathways in a pupil’s education should normally be at age 14.”

    So when did Donal McKeown, a member of the Costello Group, change his mind?

    Where is this quote from?

  • Essentialist

    Norther Ireland Assembly Education Committee Research Report 18/08 published February 2008. Do keep up old boy. You seem to becoming careless.

    Direct contact details for Donal McKeown –
    96 Downview Park West, Belfast, BT15 5HZ
    Tel: +44 (0)28 9078 1642
    Email: dmck@downandconnor.org
    Website: http://www.downandconnor.org

    Do let us know when Donal changed his position.

  • Essentialist

    To hear misrepresentation of the facts from members of the church watch the BBC Northern Ireland Hearts and Minds programme

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fgtyt/Hearts_and_Minds_06112008/

    Notice how Bishop McKeown stayed silent while his “usefool fool” made statements claiming a consensus. McKeown repeatedly refused to answer Noel Thompson’s question on whether the Catholic Church supported academic selection.

    I am told the dogs in the street know the Church position – it is a pity that the auxillary bishop cannot speak its name.

    BTW was Donal McKeown expressing a concern about St Dominics Grammar on the Falls when he made reference to upset parents?

  • Essentialist

    Examine the position of the Presbyterian Church in their report of the Board of Education 2008

    “The TRC has been consulted by the minister and its views on the new proposals sought. Due to the l ack of detail in the minister’s statement the TRC was restrained in its response. The TRC response indicated that it seeks a system
    of transfer which enables equality of opportunity and high quality outcomes for all pupils, and believes there is a strong argument for deferring key pathway decisions until 14, based upon informed parental choice. However it expressed
    to the minister the view that new arrangements must be built upon firm foundations including: clear transfer procedures, working collaborative
    arrangements, significant investment in the schools’ estate, functioning local area planning, consensus among key stakeholders and high levels of parental confidence. The time needed for these conditions to develop should not be underestimated and to forge ahead without the necessary preparation would be very risky and unlikely to gain support.”

    It seems that the Rev Gribben has decided to take a leap of faith into the abyss.

    Undoubtedly sections such as “However it expressed to the minister the view that new arrangements must be built upon firm foundations including: clear transfer procedures” and “to forge ahead without the necessary preparation would be very risky and unlikely to gain support” were just idle words.

    Little wonder TRC representation on school board of governors was so easy to get rid off. These people can hardly remember what they say from one week to the next.

  • willis

    Wilf/pace

    Thanks for that. It is useful to have a researcher.

    So it would seem that the Dickson Plan is very popular with both parents and teachers, but not “educationalists”

    Surely this would make it an ideal choice for you?

    I think the Catholic Church has a theoretical position which is under heavy pressure from the practical concern that the Minister has not delivered a complete system.

    I await the DUP proposals with bated breath.