Education proposals: private education at public expense…

When the Education Minister is getting flack from the Andersonstown News you know she’s in trouble. As John O’Dowd has pointed out, the proposal she is laying in front of the Executive Committee on Thursday is substantially the same as she brought forward nearly a year ago – an indication, perhaps, that the widely toured ‘consultation’ has had little effect on the development of the policy. Malachi O’Doherty, a fan of non selection, is blunt: “The case against academic selection in our schools is lost…”He goes on:

Catholic schools, which were opposed to the 11 plus have changed their minds. Not all of them have declared openly yet the decisions that they have taken. But dozens have, and many more in the coming weeks will. This is a development which has astonished and disheartened many who are close to it. The nice bright middle-class children are to have the benefit of something like a private educational sector, without having to pay for it. [emphasis added]

It’s a scenario that was rather inexactly predicted by Newton Emerson some four years ago, long before the incumbent Minister took up her office. He predicted a disaster for an initiative that has been marked by ideological certainty rather than for grappling directly with educational reality:

Politicians who shamelessly compare themselves to Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela promote segregation and hiring practices straight from Wallace’s Alabama and de Klerk’s South Africa. Asking parents to accept all this and a failed comprehensive model as well is an ideological step too far – and how ironic that the maintained sector should be the first to feel the squeeze, having single-handedly created the Catholic middle class whose aspirations it now scorns.

Emerson’s prediction is only falsified in one particular aspect. Rather than face a long slow extinction, the Catholic Grammars have voted with their feet and one by one have walked away from both the Minister and the Church hierarchy’s express wishes.

Which indicates that this initiative was something of a car crash primed to happen the moment Sinn Fein decided on a comprehensive policy it simply did not (despite John O’Dowd’s threat to governors at the end of his spake on Stormont Live) have sufficient power to enforce; nor a compelling solution to the education problems that particularly beset urban working classes communities…

It suggests the policy, rather than the minister, was at fault. She may end up carrying the can, but whomsoever had been briefed to take this party policy forward would have, inevitably, suffered the same fate.

  • One thing I don’t undertand is why the Minister has still not consulted children on all this. More on http://www.oconallstreet.com

  • GGN

    Caitríona Ruane is tied to Sinn Féin policy on this, Barack Obama would be in the same position.

    The middle classes were and are never going to allow their most treasured possession to be taken from them.

    By defintion they are powerful and any minister would have their work cut out.

    What its worth, I support the minister’s position, but for the first time in my life I find Malachi’s analysis to be broadly correct.

    At the same time, the SDLP would most likely be in the same position.

    If unionists held education there would be a raft of other difficulties to deal with.

  • Mick Fealty

    GGN,

    Absolutely. If it comes to making Catriona walk the plank for, the inept policy makers inside the party should walk it with her.

    Notwithstanding this was the toughest brief in government, I do not agree that it had to come to this no matter which party was in charge.

    The DUP may have all the power cards stacked on this, but there was an opportunity to find ways to address social and educational need; rather than trying to ‘bust a barrack’ that was too well fortified and dug in.

    It’s a wasted opportunity to have done some good. If Basil McCrea is right then the mock fight will concluded with Ms Ruane’s proposals being drop kicked for touch and the process of deregulated selection be got on with.

  • GGN

    Mick,

    “I do not agree that it had to come to this no matter which party was in charge.”

    Hmmm, I took from the SDLP conference that they were letting on to themselves that they would have successfully done away with academic selection. I dont believe that.

    The SDLP would have a perfect oppurtunity to take back middle class votes on this issue but they seem to be sticking to their guns, just like Sinn Féin frankly. I respect them for that.

    It is interesting that this issue could just made deeper changes in society.

    I wonder if the people on the Shankill will ever think to themselves – ‘here, that academic selection keeps us down’.

  • GGN

    “When the Education Minister is getting flack from the Andersonstown News you know she’s in trouble.”

    Should point out as I have before, there are Irish speakers and activists on both sides of that debate.

    My view is that whislt free-standing schools are normally a better option, a stream in an English medium school is better than nothing and in certain circumstances is the better option.

  • John East Belfast

    It annoys me that everytime I read about education standards in NI we appear to be bottom of the list when it comes to literacy standards and GCSE attainment.

    It is pretty clear that what we are doing here is churning out the some of the best educational talent in the UK but our labour pool doesn’t benefit proportionately because such a high proportion are emigrating – mostly to GB.

    Basically the NI education system is a preparation ground for employers outside NI and we are left with a greater uneducated and often unemployable mass.

    There is no doubt NI middle class are getting a GB private education system on the cheap and that is why they guard it so jealously.

    In addition we also have the special interests of the Catholic Church in enforcing their own expensive segregated education – there is no doubt in my mind that there is no greater contributer to NI problems than segregated education.

    There is no sane or economic reason why children should be segregated into different schools on the basis of their educational achievement at 11 nor on the basis of their religion.

    Both are costly and damaging and are basically about serving special interest groups.

    As a unionist I have been supportive of SF’s opposition to selection here but they have made such a mess of the argument – perhaps SF (and Ruane in particular) were never the best people to take this debate on in the first place.

    I dont think the policy was wrong but it as been badly articulated and acted through – ie aboloshment without an alternative other than ideology.

    Part of the problem has been that people have largely been arguing about the wrong things – ie the need or otherwise for academic selection.

    However in reality it was never about academic selection but about social selection.

    Therefore in tackling the problem they should have been thinking about ways to make acceptable to the middle classes the normal state schools.

    To me that would have meant a Zero tolerance to discipline, standards, behaviour and uniform etc. Anyone not complying would be suspended from the mainstrean state sector and put into special schools until they were prepared to confirm.
    I think that if such guarantees could have been provided the desire to have a “grammar school education would have subsided for anyone other than the toatl snobs and they could have paid for it themselves

    Therefore it has beenthe wrong argument and wrong solution – or in SF’s case No Solution at all

  • Mick Fealty

    My thoughts too on streaming. The limitation of resource is causing near panic in the Republic, whereas some in NI seem to treat it as something someone else has to do.

    Fair comments on the SDLP. Though if you are right, then it’s not so much a point of principle I would question, but what are the consequences for major nationalist parties refusing to engage with the interests of a substantial proportion of the nationalist middle class.

  • GGN

    Mick,

    “what are the consequences for major nationalist parties refusing to engage with the interests of a substantial proportion of the nationalist middle class.”

    That remains to be seen.

    One more point on the background to the Andytown News article, Caitríona Ruane has decided to act on the advice of Comhairle na Gaelscolaíochta when it come to the recongnition of IM schools, quelle surprise, she has no other option.

    She has endeavored in my view to be fair on the issue and not to recongnise every school which askes for it and has even closed an IME school and an IME unit where she was advised that they were not progressing.

    Quite fair minded.

    But I would put it to the minister that her likely successor in the job is going to be a DUP minister, perhaps Sammy Wilson or Gregory Campbell.

    Could we expect fairness on the issue from the DUP, given their comments on the issue in the assembly I would unfortunately conclude that it would be near axiomatic to think not.

    Perhaps ‘fairness’ should be tempered by that reality.

  • Mick Fealty

    In the context of long warnings (see Emerson above) on the current matter, fairness is not the central issue. Rather it is failure to prosecute a winnable and coherent case on a specific issue.

    Abolishing selection was never a political runner for the reasons noted by Emerson four years ago.
    JEB has it in one:

    “I don’t think the policy was wrong but it as been badly articulated and acted through – ie abolishment without an alternative other than ideology.”

    This was the Executive’s first set piece public reform and it has performed very poorly. The DUP seem ready to make the best of a bad job, with Mervyn Story arguing that the deregulated vacuum can work.

    And I guess he is right. Certainty itself is an improvement for most Primary school parents who were previously facing a three year long black hole under the Minister’s proposals.

    The question for citizens to ask is: what on earth have we got out of this that would not have been gained more intelligently by a English or Scottish Minister using direct rule stealth?

  • I heard the other day from a fairly reliable source that in the Greater Belfast area more children attend grammar schools than do not. Can anyone corroborate this? If true, it means that whilst the case against academic selection might be lost (and I don’t know about this), academic selection itself -in terms of educating elites- has been lost.

    On another note, I think the Catholic Church is trying to develop Catholic Schools along the lines of the more prestigious status of Catholic schools in Great Britain where you get converts from Zoroastrianism and all sorts getting baptised in order to get in.

    I get the feeling part of it probably has to do with developing a crack elite of Jesuitical priests to address the problem of falling congregations (falling in terms of number, not in terms of sin, or of slippery floors).

  • Congal Claen

    When I was entering P1 I was separated from my best mate as he had to go to the RC primary. Why is SF’s stance on grammar schools based on “fairness” but separate schools based on religion is about “choice”.

  • kensei

    CC

    Why is SF’s stance on grammar schools based on “fairness” but separate schools based on religion is about “choice”.

    I wonder how abolishing Catholic schools – as pointed out here, creator of the Catholic middle class – would go down with their electorate?

    And if I so choose to send my hypothetical future child to an RC primary because 1. they give a good education and 2. he gets properly prepared for confession and first communion and all the other things Catholic kids go through, neither his 5 year old mate, the parents of said child or the governments hould have any bloody say in it.

  • ulsterfan

    Kensei

    Why should I as a tax payer pay the wages of a teacher to prepare your child for first communion.
    If you are so concerned then perhaps you should accept this responsibility yourself or allow the church to do so away from the educational system.
    What about separating church and state and keep the religious out of the classroom?
    Don’t give me that nonsense about parental wishes, when the church grabbed the education system there was no one in Ireland brave enough to object.
    The church took control without any reference to its members.
    I have no wish to subsidise such a sectarian system where by virtue of religion alone children are separated from friends.
    What a form of apartheid!!!
    Kick the churches out.

  • Reader

    GGN: Perhaps ‘fairness’ should be tempered by that reality.
    Only in the sense that it is better to have 20 schools made of brick than 40 made of straw if a different political wind begins to blow.

  • frustrated democrat

    The underlying thrust of this debate is that government should replace bad parents by giving their children an opportunity that their home ethos has failed to do.

    I came from a relatively poor working class family ( although no one told us at the time), in a house with no electric or running water. My parents, to whom I am eternally grateful, made it clear that they wanted me to get an education and worked with my school and an excellent teacher to make sure that it happened and that I passed the 11+ without which a grammar school education would have been impossible.

    The question is whether or not we want to live in a nanny state which takes responsibilty from parents for their children’s education and put children into a system where they do not have the home environment to flourish.

    The current 11+ system provides the opportunity to get an education for children who have the brains to do so, if their parents do not chose to push them in that way then it is not the States fault.

    Success and failure are a part of life whether it is passing the 11+ or getting a place on a team or getting promotion at work accept it and move on and work harder in future to make the most of the talents you have, do not complain about those talents you don’t have.

  • Driftwood

    Kensei
    What is a “Catholic” kid? Did the child decide on his ‘faith’ at 5 years old? Given all the options. Bright kid.

  • IJP

    Conall

    Please don’t disappear too far down this “children must be consulted” line – it’s for the same reason they don’t have the vote, frankly!

    Generally, we should be consulting less, not more. That’s what elections are for – if we elect idiots who don’t understand policy development, good governance or administrative reform, we should replace them.

    GGN

    Yes – but the thing is, I wasn’t even as negative as you about the prospects of the “middle classes” (however defined) being brought on board to the broadly “anti-selection” argument.

    The central issue to the need for reform is not moral, it is practical – grammar schools are oversubscribed but, at the same time, are lowering standards. How on earth can a school which accepts a ‘D’ for entry truly be “academically selective”. The current system is a snob’s charter, not a system of genuine academic selection.

    Had the case been made on that basis, it would have been won – albeit perhaps with concessions, such as, say, academic streams in community schools or “city academies” or such.

    The simply fact is the Minister has managed to lose an argument which could only be won. No one gains from her failure.

  • willis

    IJP

    “The central issue to the need for reform is not moral, it is practical – grammar schools are oversubscribed but, at the same time, are lowering standards. How on earth can a school which accepts a ‘D’ for entry truly be “academically selective”. The current system is a snob’s charter, not a system of genuine academic selection.”

    All true but beside the point.

    The current system is unfair, but the people being treated unfairly are powerless, particularly if they are Protestant.

    Currently the choice is.

    “Do we want an unfair system or a disastrous one?” Strangely the consensus is for the unfair system.

  • IJP

    I don’t think it is beside the point, Willis, because that is how the argument would have been won.

    Those benefitting from unfairness are not going to vote to remove it if there is no reason for them to do so, frankly. That’s politics.

    But if even those benefitting stand, in the medium term, to lose out, then you have a fair chance of persuading them. That’s leadership.

    We don’t do either very well here.

  • Newsflash

    The DUP has been sitting on information that would assist in clarifying the “unregulated tests” issue.

    Extracts from communication from CCEA state unequivocally that a test of the revised curriculum will be available. This despite Caitriona Ruane claiming that the revised curriculum was untestable.

    Information provided by CCEA indicates that a regulated test will be available by the Autumn of 2009. No details of the specification for the test have been provided however despite a request for the detail.

    ……”The test development schedule is outlined below. Subject to policy decisions and if the contingency arises, the test will be available for delivery from autumn 2009. (The policy decision is simply whether the DUP will accept the phased ending of academic selection)

    Test Development

    Stage of Development Date Status

    Question writing & reviewing
    October – February
    Ongoing

    Question trialling & analysis
    March – April
    On target

    Construction & review of draft tests
    May – August
    On target

    Printing of tests
    September/October
    On target…………..”

    Why have the DUP kept silent on this when on the BBC Stephen Nolan Show this morning Mervyn Storey had an opportunity to clarify the matter to a parent caller?

    Mr Storey on behalf of the DUP also gave silent assent to John O’Dowd’s claim that the revised curriculum was the basis for improved educational outcomes. It seems that those advising the DUP have been caught with their pants down and have accepted the pass. The Trojan Horse of the revised curriculum was the brainchild of that supreme organisation of failed initiatives,CCEA.

  • GGN

    Reader,

    “Only in the sense that it is better to have 20 schools made of brick than 40 made of straw if a different political wind begins to blow.”

    A sound point I admit.

  • Driftwood

    Care to cite your references Essentialist?

  • kensei

    Why should I as a tax payer pay the wages of a teacher to prepare your child for first communion.

    Catholic schools meet their statuatory duties with regards to education and typically do so well. Beyond that, I don’t believe it’s your concern what extra curicular activities a particular school engages in.

    If you are so concerned then perhaps you should accept this responsibility yourself or allow the church to do so away from the educational system.

    I am quite content with the status quo. It’s worked well for generations. No desire to break it.

    What about separating church and state and keep the religious out of the classroom?

    I much prefer the state to fund a variety of schools in different sectors based on demand, rather than run a monopoly of the entire system. One keeps the state at arms length, offers choice and a decentralised and pluralist approach, one is Stalanist state intervention. Next.

    Don’t give me that nonsense about parental wishes, when the church grabbed the education system there was no one in Ireland brave enough to object.

    When the Chruch “grabbed” the system in Ireland, no one else was doing it. Hence why they own a lot of the schools. I do not propose for a second that the Church run every school. Simply that the state merely funds schools in differnet sectors – independent, integrated, Irish medium, Protestant run, Muslim run, whatever based on demand for those services. And ensure that standards are maintained.

    The church took control without any reference to its members.

    If Catholic parents didn’t want their children at Catholic schools, they wouldn’t be sent there.

    I have no wish to subsidise such a sectarian system where by virtue of religion alone children are separated from friends.
    What a form of apartheid!!!

    There are Catholic schools throughout the world, including in England. It does not appear to be a problem.

    No, you dislike them for entirely political reasons.

    Driftwood

    A Catholic kid si one that has been baptised intot he Catholic Church. If I think that is good for my hypothetical future child, then that is none of your business, or the state’s.

  • Written communication from CCEA in response to a request for clarification.

    Naming names. That will follow in due course.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “Simply that the state merely funds schools in differnet sectors – independent, integrated, Irish medium, Protestant run, Muslim run, whatever based on demand for those services”

    Seems to be anything but grammar.

    So, you should be given the choice to send your kid to a catholic school. Why should I not have the choice to send my child to a grammar school?

    As you say above, “neither his 5 year old mate, the parents of said child or the governments hould have any bloody say in it”

  • Kensei

    Seems to be anything but grammar.

    So, you should be given the choice to send your kid to a catholic school. Why should I not have the choice to send my child to a grammar school?

    Because if your child doesn’t pass the test, you don’t get the choice. In theory if you really want to send your child to a Protestant/Catholic/Muslim school, as long as you are prepared for them to take the same religious components as anyone else at the school, I think that they should get in.

    My problem with academic selection is that it is not simply unfair, but inefficient. Suppose a child misses out on a grammar by 1 mark. We know his chances are greatly diminished compared to the child that gets in by one mark. Are they really that different? If not, it’s not simply unjust but a waste of talent.

    I am not against some level of specialisation or selection in schools as part of a generally pluralist approach. But 100% selection? Nope.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “Suppose a child misses out on a grammar by 1 mark. We know his chances are greatly diminished compared to the child that gets in by one mark. Are they really that different? If not, it’s not simply unjust but a waste of talent.”

    If they all goto comprehensives those at the top all suffer. Personally, I think there should be more grading of schools – not less. Have divisions similar to football. With relegation/promotion every year. Gives those below something to strive for and means those in the higher divisions can’t rest on their laurels. The pupil who misses out by one mark may drive on to make it next year.

    “I am not against some level of specialisation or selection in schools as part of a generally pluralist approach. But 100% selection? Nope.”

    I also agree with specialisation. However, not as a catch all for those who didn’t get the 11+. Why should anyone be allowed to be a plumber, electrician, joiner, etc? You should have some form of manual dexterity to be able to do this. Loads of kids at my grammar school couldn’t nail 2 bits of wood together. I don’t think it would have done them any harm at all to fail a test to see whether they were permitted to become a plumber, etc. Some people learn quite a bit from failure. I have. And it shouldn’t be held up as some form of evil.

    Lets face it, it’s the parents who are the ones who don’t want to say wee Jonny didn’t make it. Kids know rightly who’ll make the 11+ in their class. If they don’t you can be sure they’re not making it. When I went to P1 the kids who were top of the class were still top at the end of P7. It was no surprise.

  • Kensei

    CC

    If they all goto comprehensives those at the top all suffer.

    Not necessarily. Many countries that have comprehensive systems do very well.

    Personally, I think there should be more grading of schools – not less. Have divisions similar to football. With relegation/promotion every year. Gives those below something to strive for and means those in the higher divisions can’t rest on their laurels. The pupil who misses out by one mark may drive on to make it next year.

    I have written on this topic before. Professional sports systems can produce perverse results when selecting talent. I suggest you read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”.

    It is also reasonable to ask if it is a good thing for children to be moved from school potentially every year.

    Kids know rightly who’ll make the 11+ in their class. If they don’t you can be sure they’re not making it. When I went to P1 the kids who were top of the class were still top at the end of P7. It was no surprise.

    My best mate in university averaged a lowish 2:2 in first year. He walked out with a first. And he wasn’t the type to fuck about and was tryign his hardest the whole way through. I do not believe in intellectual determinism.

    Even assume you are generally correct. There will always been exceptions, and quite a lot of them. Even then you have not answered my point. I am not focusing on thos estudents, but those on the borderline. I could of course, furtehr undermine the 11+ by pointing out how it screws those at the bottom.

  • Essentialist

    Kensei,

    It seems that you have resisted reading Testing the Test by John Gardner and Pamela Cowan of QUB even though it was provided in a link on a previous thread.

    The technical section explains all of the weaknesses of the 11-plus transfer test but places the responsibility firmly on the Department of Education and CCEA.

    Their motivation in supporting the end of the 11-plus was fear of litigation.

    Nothing has been produced to improve upon the 11-plus and the whole issue of post-primary transfer remains in turmoil. It would be better if you addressed these issues instead of offering anecdotes for comprehensive education.

    For instance tell Sluggerites about the revised curriculum and how it can be objectively measured.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “I could of course, furtehr undermine the 11+ by pointing out how it screws those at the bottom”

    Comprehensives screw those at the top. Which is way worse as that is where the new medical treatments, ideas, etc are going to come from.

  • kensei

    CC

    Comprehensives screw those at the top. Which is way worse as that is where the new medical treatments, ideas, etc are going to come from.

    Several countries have successful comprehensive systems.

    And, by the by, there is no direct link between IQ and the production of useful things. What matters isn’t that you are smart, it is that you are smart enough. Beyond that there are a lot of different factors that influence success.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “Several countries have successful comprehensive systems.”

    That rather depends on what you mean by successful. On a direct comparison with their peers in England, NI grammar school kids get better grades.

  • kensei

    CC

    That rather depends on what you mean by successful. On a direct comparison with their peers in England, NI grammar school kids get better grades.

    Is England the only country in the world or something?

  • Driftwood

    Does the RoI have grammar schools?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    No. I was pointing out that you gave no background to what you deem successful. I then attempted to display the success of NI Grammar schools by comparing them with England as kids there follow the same course and do the same exams. I thought that would be a logical comparison.

  • On a direct comparison with their peers in England, NI grammar school kids get better grades.

    Who do you identify as their peers in England?

  • kensei

    Finland is usually the most quoted example of a successful comprehensive system I believe. There is no reason why our system has to look anything like England’s. That is a giant straw man.

    I’m not even advocating a comprehensive system in any case, given that I have already stated I favour a pluralist approach and would support some level of specialisation.

  • Driftwood

    Hugh Green
    The peers would be the English Grammar Schools. England has far more grammar schools which admit pupils by academic selection than NI.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Hugh,

    I meant kids following the same courses and doing the same exams and specifically comprehensive kids – as I suspect kids at grammar schools in England also outperform their peers.

    Hi kensei,

    You’re very keen at intoducing straw men into arguments. I only used England as a comparison as it’s easy to draw conclusions as the course and exams are fixed controls. The variable is school type. Either grammar or comprehensive. So, it’s logical to suggest grammar outperforms comprehensive with the other variables being equal. No straw men. Just logic. The result of a good grammar school education ;0)

    What are the successes of Finland’s system? Do you know any, other than it is “successful”?

  • Driftwood

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/4033593.stm

    Kensei, This would require a massive cultural shift, and huge change in physical infrastructure.
    Realistic? Given the petty slanging that constitutes our excuse for an assembly.

  • George

    “Does the RoI have grammar schools?”

    No but some schools stream although that is generally within the school itself, as in the the children with the best results in the first year of secondary school all being put in the one class in second year. Don’t know if that is as common as it used to be. The school I went to seems to have got rid of it, for example.

    There is also some streaming after the Group Cert in whether you are allowed take honours subjects.

  • kensei

    CC

    You’re very keen at intoducing straw men into arguments. I only used England as a comparison as it’s easy to draw conclusions as the course and exams are fixed controls. The variable is school type. Either grammar or comprehensive. So, it’s logical to suggest grammar outperforms comprehensive with the other variables being equal. No straw men. Just logic. The result of a good grammar school education ;0)

    Perhaps a comprehensive education would have served you better. I am not proposing an English system so your comparison is invalid. You are the one you has introduced “comprehensive system” into the debate, you are the one making comparisons with the English system. Stay away from flames else you argument will catch fire.

    In any case, it is also not clear that our system is necessarily better than England’s. Top end grades are better, but AFAIK we have apalling results lower down. How this impacts the wider economy could be debated. England is also an order of magnitude larger than the North so we have to be careful with comparisons.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    No, I’m comparing the same course and examinations under a grammar system with that under a comprehensive system. I know of no other place in the world that uses the same course/exam other than England so choices are limited. It’s a perfectly valid argument.

    Lower end grades are worse. Big deal. To be harsh, what does that matter? There are thousands of jobs were you need no qualifications – basic maths and reading are enough. In fact, sometimes it’s a disadvantage to have qualifications as the employer thinks you’ll soon be on your way.

    Incidentally, I believe you compared our lower end results with those in England. Your straw man alarm must be going mental ;0)

  • The peers would be the English Grammar Schools.

    I suppose it would have to be.

    I meant kids following the same courses and doing the same exams and specifically comprehensive kids – as I suspect kids at grammar schools in England also outperform their peers.

    Kids at comprehensive schools are not the peers of kids at grammar schools. ‘Comprehensive’ means that it takes pupils of all ability. So to draw a peer comparison you would have to look at how the grammar school system in NI creams off the top x% of the ability range, and then compare the results of grammar schools as a whole against how the top x% perform in English comprehensives.

    Even at that, you would only be comparing the effectiveness of grammar schools for those who actually get into them. You would not be measuring the effectiveness of the education system as a whole.

  • kensei

    CC

    No, I’m comparing the same course and examinations under a grammar system with that under a comprehensive system. I know of no other place in the world that uses the same course/exam other than England so choices are limited. It’s a perfectly valid argument.

    Congratulations. You’ve “proven” (note caveats with regards to relative size) that the Grammar system here produces better results at the top end than the English comprehensive system.

    Fantastic. Except I’m not arguing for an English-style system. Now, pay attention, because I’m not repeating myself again.

    Lower end grades are worse. Big deal. To be harsh, what does that matter? There are thousands of jobs were you need no qualifications – basic maths and reading are enough. In fact, sometimes it’s a disadvantage to have qualifications as the employer thinks you’ll soon be on your way.

    1. We have a moral obligation to ensure that people have the opportunity to reach their potential.
    2. There is an entire bracket of people that given a Grammar rather than Secondary education, would have went to university but didn’t. That is not simply unfair, but wasteful to the economy.
    3. At the very bottom there are people without even the “basic skills” of which you speak.
    4. Job growth is occuring in high value sectors and not low skilled jobs.
    5. We will spend a hell fo a lot more monmey trying to upskill people later.

    And taht si simply off the top of my head, you elitist fuck.

    Incidentally, I believe you compared our lower end results with those in England. Your straw man alarm must be going mental ;0)

    Which I prefaced with “in any case” to indicate that, while I don’t accept the premise, but even if I did there were issues.

    Please end this horrendus sloppliness, it is just irritating.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Hugh,

    As a percentage NI outperforms England at the top end of results. Last year’s GCSE for example…

    Northern Ireland 26.4% A*/A and 74.5% A* to C

    England 20.6% A*/A and 65.5% A* to C

    Wales 18.9% and 65%.

  • Driftwood

    Getting to university aint what it used to be:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/personal-view/4389856/Our-universities-are-in-a-first-class-mess.html

    Kensei, I believe you wished for the Finnish system. Any timeframe for implementing this? 2 years?

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “1. We have a moral obligation to ensure that people have the opportunity to reach their potential.”

    No we don’t. Equality of opportunity is fine.

    “2. There is an entire bracket of people that given a Grammar rather than Secondary education, would have went to university but didn’t. That is not simply unfair, but wasteful to the economy.”

    It is perfectly fair. That’s the point of the test.

    “3. At the very bottom there are people without even the “basic skills” of which you speak.”

    I’ve worked with them. Our company had reading classes ffs. However, they still had jobs and were paid exactly the same rate for the job.

    “4. Job growth is occuring in high value sectors and not low skilled jobs.”

    And mediocrity won’t fill those positions.

    “5. We will spend a hell fo a lot more monmey trying to upskill people later.”

    School only gives an indication of someone’s ability. They usually require upskilling for whatever job they find.

    “sloppliness”?

    Is that a joke after your tizzy fit half way through your last post?

  • kensei

    CC

    No we don’t. Equality of opportunity is fine.

    The 11+ doe snot insure equality of opportunity; it advantages the middle classes greatly.

    It is perfectly fair. That’s the point of the test.

    Except it isn’t fair. A lot kids are coached so taht money distorts the system. And that is only one half of the argument, it is inefficient asit leaves a lot of perfectly capacble people behind.

    I’ve worked with them. Our company had reading classes ffs. However, they still had jobs and were paid exactly the same rate for the job.

    So, your company had to spend money doing what the education system should have done? Perhaps if they didn’t have to do that everyone’s wages would be higher. Do you see?

    And mediocrity won’t fill those positions.

    Mack had an excellent post int he other thread. To wit:

    In the modern world we (Ireland, Republic at least) send over 50% of the population onto third level. In the future this may be higher still. The advantage to the economy is that better educated workers tend to be more productive, and that by producing an excess you keep wages down. This drives business growth and growth for the economy overall. This also gives us a comparitive advantage over lower cost competitors such as China where workers are less well educated on average.

    School only gives an indication of someone’s ability. They usually require upskilling for whatever job they find.

    I don’t even know where to start on that one. I don’t expect our school system should produce an “indication” of talent in Maths. I expect it to produce people with a set level of understanding, that can be used as a basis for furtehr training ro study. This is not the same as remedial work.

    Is that a joke after your tizzy fit half way through your last post?

    No, I am very serious. Your argument is sloppy.

  • kensei

    Drift

    I didn’t advocate a Finnish type system either. I merley pointed it to disprove the assertion:

    “Comprehensive systems are always worse than grammar systems”.

    I think there are certainly things there we should look at adopting. In general though, I think the government should set up a framework (so change at 11 or 14, when exams are run etc), expected standards and consequences if not met and then fund anyone that meets the criteria – church, language, business, integrated, whatever. This decreases the chances that one bad choice at a high level messes everything up for everyone, lets us try different approaches and gradually shift funding towards what works. Timescale — 2 years should be enough to set it up.

    As for unis – c’mon one thing at a time.

  • Driftwood

    kensei
    Why not just bring back the ‘review’ system which used to operate, where some kids who failed the test would be given a chance at a grammar to see if theycould handle it?

  • kensei

    “Why not just bring back the ‘review’ system which used to operate, where some kids who failed the test would be given a chance at a grammar to see if theycould handle it? ”

    “Some” kids? Which ones? For how long?How many chances? What about the bottom end and improving their lot?

    No, the system needs broken and remade. Into what requires a bit fo though.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi kensei,

    “The 11+ doe snot insure equality of opportunity; it advantages the middle classes greatly.”

    The 11+ has gone. We’re discussing selection. I’d have no problem using IQs. I don’t want to see the working classes disadvantaged as that’s what I am myself. However, the comprehensive system tends to select by postcode which is even worse for the working classes.

    “Except it isn’t fair. A lot kids are coached so taht money distorts the system. And that is only one half of the argument, it is inefficient asit leaves a lot of perfectly capacble people behind.”

    And that’s gone. You can’t really coach for IQ scores. Will that suffice?

    “So, your company had to spend money doing what the education system should have done? Perhaps if they didn’t have to do that everyone’s wages would be higher. Do you see?”

    No the company didn’t have to. It chose to. Not for economic reasons but for community reasons by attaining IIP recognition.

    “The advantage to the economy is…etc…”

    That’s about to be put to the test.

    “I don’t even know where to start on that one. I don’t expect our school system should produce an “indication” of talent in Maths. I expect it to produce people with a set level of understanding, that can be used as a basis for furtehr training ro study. This is not the same as remedial work.”

    Can I suggest the beginning? More seriously, from my own experience, I studied maths to degree level. Do you know how often I have used 4th order differential equations since? That’s what I meant about demonstrating ability that may never be used. Most people could give similar examples.

    “No, I am very serious. Your argument is sloppy.”

    Kensei that was my attempt at humour. You spelt sloppiness incorrectly. I thought it ironic that your spelling of sloppiness was itself sloppy. It’s not as funny when it needs spelled out is it? And yes that’s also a meagre attempt at humour.

  • Driftwood

    Hugh Green
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/ireland/article393651.ece

    Kensei
    Agree about raising the level at the bottom and this is where the rarely mentioned FE colleges (ex technical Colleges)should be given the respect they deserve.

  • kensei

    The 11+ has gone. We’re discussing selection. I’d have no problem using IQs.

    I do. for reasons already stated.

    I don’t want to see the working classes disadvantaged as that’s what I am myself. However, the English comprehensive system tends to select by postcode which is even worse for the working classes.

    Corrected. See earlier point.

    And that’s gone. You can’t really coach for IQ scores. Will that suffice?

    This is complete nonsense. You can coach, and there are also sorts of cultural factors at play in the tests and worst, the criteria doesn’t make sense. Again, it doesn’t matter if your IQ is high, it matters that it is high enough. Else the world would be dominated by geniuses with 200 IQs. It isn’t. You are as likely to hold a Nobel with a 140 IQ as 180.

    No the company didn’t have to. It chose to. Not for economic reasons but for community reasons by attaining IIP recognition.

    You are still missing the point. If the company insisted on spending the money, it could have improved people’s level even further, had them do better things. It is an inefficiency as a direct result of a failure fo the education system.

    Can I suggest the beginning? More seriously, from my own experience, I studied maths to degree level. Do you know how often I have used 4th order differential equations since? That’s what I meant about demonstrating ability that may never be used. Most people could give similar examples.

    I did Comp Sci. Actually a lot of what I did has direct relevance to my job- basic programming, TCP/IP, test methods yadda yadda yadda. But I did a lot of Maths too, and I count the problem solving skills, focus and perservance I learned from doing that as much more valuable.

    Uni should not be all about what job it gets you at the end, or what effec t it has ont he economy, but it is a consideration.

    Kensei that was my attempt at humour. You spelt sloppiness incorrectly. I thought it ironic that your spelling of sloppiness was itself sloppy. It’s not as funny when it needs spelled out is it? And yes that’s also a meagre attempt at humour.

    I am typing at a million miles an hour in work. Better aloppy spelling than sloppy argument. And I have no sense of humor.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Kensei,

    “You can coach, and there are also sorts of cultural factors at play in the tests and worst, the criteria doesn’t make sense.”

    Don’t agree. However, if allowance was made for these factors would that be ok? Or are you just opposed and that’s it?

    “You are still missing the point. If the company insisted on spending the money, it could have improved people’s level even further, had them do better things. It is an inefficiency as a direct result of a failure fo the education system.”

    I’m missing fek all point. Afterall it was me who was in the factory. Someone was going to have to put the packages in the boxes for example. If people were trained up others would have to replace them. The IIP thing is a goodwill gesture – it’s of no real benefit.

    “I did Comp Sci. Actually a lot of what I did has direct relevance to my job- basic programming, TCP/IP, test methods yadda yadda yadda. But I did a lot of Maths too, and I count the problem solving skills, focus and perservance I learned from doing that as much more valuable.”

    I’ve also an MSc in Computers. As a S/W engineer I worked on various networking technologies BGP, OSPF, MPLS, ISIS and a bunch of other acronyms. I still never found a use for the 4th order differential equations or indeed most of the stuff I did in my primary degree.