“you have to deal with the real world..”

Not, apparently, if you’re the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitriona Ruane. Given the rare opportunity of the Education Minister actually in the studio, Jim Fitzpatrick asks, a number of times, whether the “awful prospect” of de-regulation by default, that the Minister has been threatening to press ahead with, will be a worse scenario than retaining academic selection.. [Nevermind the detail, onward! – Ed] Interestingly, along with co-opting the Churches intervention onto her side of the argument, she does seem to concede that post-primary transfer is part of the “wide range of issues” being discussed between Sinn Féin and the DUP – “we won’t negotiate through the media”. That “package deal” approach has already had its critics.

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  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    So Wee Reggie – leader of a party that put this strucure together in the GFA – is suggesting that the sectarian trade offs that inevitably flow from it are wrong?

    Opportunist nonesense from a party without a coherent idea of which way to point and still smarting from the kick up the jacksie (pehaps unfairly) adminstered by the Unionist electorate.

  • Mick

    Better performance by Catriona in the chamber (it had some relevant educational content), but it’s clear from the studio discussion that progress on education is contingent on her party’s progress on policing and justice and therefore not really within her gift.

  • Diluted Orange

    She cites the fact that the “Americas, the rest of Europe and the rest of Ireland” don’t have academic selection – so we must do the same. Tell me Catriona, in these places do you have to pay (several £1000s a year in most cases) to get a decent education or do you not?

    How will the children of “Rathcoole, the Shankill or the New Lodge” be better served by this new system?

  • Driftwood

    “Americas, the rest of Europe and the rest of Ireland”
    To the best of my knowledge do not have segregated education based on creed either. Well RoI might, but the USA did away with segregation in the 1950’s. What say we do the same here and remove the churches from any say in the education system. Why is it any of their business anyway?

    Then take a fresh look at selection, giving people the right to swap from secondary to grammar in any year, and vice versa.

  • Pete

    I have been trying to link to your YouTube above and it appears to have been removed. All ok?

    On the subtance of the issue her position has been described to me as a “race to the bottom”. Hard to disagree.

  • Pete Baker

    Conall

    Seems to be still there.

    If you’re still having trouble with it you could try to pick it up at the YouTube site link.

    http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=0b5i0sT_Omc

  • Got it Pete thanks.

    And thanks for the work you put in to getting all this material on YouTube. The netroots owe you a debt.

    Conall

  • skullion

    Well thanks Catriona that’s cleared that up.The woman has created a mess entirely of her own making and hasn’t a clue how to resolve.Perhaps she should have sat a test or something to see whether she saw capable of doing the job in the first place.

  • ggn
  • skullion

    ggn

    A bit like Catriona’s ideas that was lost on me.Perhaps you could give me the jist of the article?

  • ggn

    Skull,

    The suggestion is that a number of ministers arew below par but that the distate for Caitríona Ruane in the media goes beyond her performance and is much to do with her background.

  • skullion

    Thanks ggn

    The minister’s background is of no consequence to me.However last week i attended a meeting at my son’s primary school regarding preparations for next year’s transfer test.To say that the principal was frustrated would be an understament.He simply told the parents that he had nothing to tell.Interestingly he went further and distanced himself and all his colleagues from recent newspaper articles where the minister claimed that she was in agreement with school principals with regards to her “proposals”.I should also add that this was a catholic primary school and the minister was viewed with outright hostility by many parents there.It’s not her background that attracts negative publicity but her total absence of a coherent policy.

  • brendan,belfast

    Wrong ggn. What part of her ‘background’is supposed to engender hostility among the media? Not her gender, we have had plenty of competent female Ministers. Not her party, since Michelle Gildernew particularly and Conor Murphy get off pretty lightly. Is it her origin? Brid Rodgers didn’t automatically attract hostility although she hailed from south of the border.

    Maybe, when it all boils down, her arrogance, inability and incompetence are behind the percieved hostility. It could really be that simple.

  • willis

    Meanwhile the DUP can sit on their hands, make re-assuring noises, sounding positive about the 11+ as well as Dickson. All they have to do is wait for Sinn Fein to move.

  • Mack

    Diluted Orange – “She cites the fact that the “Americas, the rest of Europe and the rest of Ireland” don’t have academic selection – so we must do the same. Tell me Catriona, in these places do you have to pay (several £1000s a year in most cases) to get a decent education or do you not?”

    Eh, no. Whatever gave you that idea?

    Education costs a lot of money regardless of who pays for it, but in most of Europe and even the Americas a decent second-level education is funded by the state (i.e. tax payers, you & me 🙂 ). You would guess then, that all tax payers would be entitled to a quality education, seeing as they are paying for it! Or, at the very least a decent tax rebate from the NI government to the 70% of the population who get a lower quality education but pay for the other 30%!

    Grammar school spongers 😉

  • Reader

    Mack: Or, at the very least a decent tax rebate from the NI government to the 70% of the population who get a lower quality education but pay for the other 30%
    Isn’t it more likely that those who go to grammar schools end up paying more taxes than the rest? Also, grammar schools get less funding per pupil. So – who are the ‘spongers’?

  • Driftwood

    a decent second-level education is funded by the state

    So it should be run by the state. End of. Churches or any faith group should have zero input. How about mandatory integrated schools?

    If the RC Church (or any other religion) want to run their own schools, let them pay for them.

  • Mack

    Reader – My post was a bit tongue in cheek so don’t take it too seriously. Just looking at it from a non-standard point of view.

    That said the state is providing two competing services (Grammars, Secondary), one of which is better than the other but it is restricting access to the superior service to the children of a minority of tax payers (who go on to become a minority of tax payers). Can you imagine the uproar if the state atempted this in health? (On whatever grounds, e.g. estimated responsivity to treatment – “Sorry, madam, but were not going to treat your toddler”.)
    This kind of differentiation is fine in the private sector, because ultimately participants can choosed where to spend their capital, but it is deeply inequitable within a state system where all tax payers must fund the system but only a minority benefit. Incidentally, while individual Grammar school graduates may indeed pay more in tax (on average) than Secondary School graduates – there are substantially more Secondary school graduates, they tend to start work earlier & a portion of them do go on to third level (despite their natural disadvantage). Also, given the recent property boom I doubt it’s even true that those who left school at 16 to take up a trade earn less than even the brightest third and fourth level graduates (€150k for a good tiler in RoI according to the book “The Builders”).

    Driftwood – In theory I agree 100%. In practice, the churches have a long history of providing education (at their own expense) on this island to those who otherwise would not have been educated at all. To take 50% of pupils outside of the state system into a private system would surely not be politically possible. At the very least, those tax payers would expect a rebate!

  • Driftwood

    Mack
    Educate all pupils at the same schools. In effect, all schools should be integrated. This is poltically possible in most other countries.
    Independent Christian schools do exist, non-state funded. BRA practically is integrated.Why not St Malachys, under a more suitable name?

  • Gupta Singh

    Do North American or Scottish education systems educate kids better? A friend of mine who lives in Scotland knows quite a few children starting secondary education who can’t read.

    Whilst I have no strong feelings toward the 11+, I am prepared to accept there needs to be a better process, I am worried about the strengthening of locality. Is this likely to strengthen siege / ghetto mentality anre reduce further the chance for kids from both communities to interact?

  • Mack

    Gupta Singh –

    http://www.education.ie/admin/servlet/blobservlet/des_educ_trends_chapter07.htm.

    Section 7.11 shows the percentage in each EU jurisdiction completing upper secondary (A-Level, Leaving Cert Equivalents).

    By way of comparison this stands at 85.3% for the Republic of Ireland and 76.4% for the UK. In the UK those will be divided between A-Level and vocational qualifications (that split may itself be better suited to a manufacturing based economy rather than a hi-tech / knowledge economy).

    Pupils in Northern Ireland are already segregated. All the 11+ does is decide who the lucky 30% are and who the unlucky 70% are. You need either Driftwood’s secular only or an increased integrated sector to end segregation.

  • Essentialist

    UNESCO’s insistence on child-centred approaches owes more to evangelism than the outcomes of carefully designed large-scale studies. For example, no high quality study has established that inclusive education is best delivered though child-centred pedagogy.

    More worrying, carefully designed studies have demonstrated that such curricula are particularly damaging to the poor. In Left Back, published in 2000, Diane Ravitch quotes Donald Myers who was charged with evaluating the impact of child-centred curricula in the USA. Myers shares Ravitch’s concerns about “educationalists”:

    “The time has come in American education,” he declared, “when teachers should stage a walkout when education evangelists” propose innovations that have not been validated by careful research over a long period of time. Instead of being paid and applauded, these hucksters should be sent packing and “should be thankful they are not jailed as would representatives of a pharmaceutical house for dispensing a drug before it has been tested.”

    The reforms proposed for Northern Ireland schools are addressed in two highly regarded studies – one centred on assessment, the other on curriculum – and both draw the same unequivocal conclusion which should interest the Catholic Church and Sinn Fein: the poor will lose out dramatically if Sinn Fein have their way! This has already been hinted at in research on the early years “Enriched Curriculum” in Northern Ireland, where a “Matthew Effect” was identified; in progressive curricula – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    “Project Follow Through” is arguably the largest and most sophisticated educational project ever undertaken to discover, once and for all, the type of curriculum that maximizes the academic achievement of the poor.

    To give a sense of the scale of this study, it lasted 20 years, cost a billion dollars to fund, and involved 79,000 children from 180 low-income communities living in poverty. The conclusion was that the curriculum which helps children out of poverty is a traditional curriculum in which the teacher determines what is to be taught and children work in learning environments which are orderly and highly structured. (you can find details of this study by googling the words Project Follow Through.)

    The Revised Curriculum currently being implemented in Northern Ireland (the one the Minister is demanding that all primary school children must follow) was shown to be damaging to the development of the numeracy and literacy skills of disadvantaged children.

  • Reader

    Mack: Can you imagine the uproar if the state atempted this in health? (On whatever grounds, e.g. estimated responsivity to treatment – “Sorry, madam, but were not going to treat your toddler”.)
    Interesting analogy, but incomplete: “Sorry madam, but your toddler isn’t responding to treatment – we want to put him in intensive care”. “Sorry madam, but your toddler is oversensitive to this intensive therapy, we want to move to a slower pace of treatment”. “Sorry madam, but your toddler is throwing his medicine out of the window and abusing the nurses, we need to move him to another ward.”
    The state *does* do this in health.

  • Mack

    Reader – You’re right the Doctors do make continous judgements in health, in the best interest of the child. You know what I meant though, I’m sure.

  • willis

    Mack

    “Pupils in Northern Ireland are already segregated. All the 11+ does is decide who the lucky 30% are and who the unlucky 70% are.”

    Actually it is currently much better than this.

    41% are at Grammar schools and 6% at Integrated all-ability schools. I suppose another 2-3% are at popular and successful Dickson Plan Schools.

    If all 30% who do not sit the 11+ go to schools they want to go to then we are already at 70%-80% who get the schooling they want.

    Wilf

    “The conclusion was that the curriculum which helps children out of poverty is a traditional curriculum in which the teacher determines what is to be taught and children work in learning environments which are orderly and highly structured”

    Couldn’t agree more. I hope you will show your support for teachers who have to control disorderly students.

  • Mack

    Willis – sounds like a big improvement from my day then – great to see!

    Why is this such an issue today? How hard can it be to expand the grammars to fit another 20-30% ?