The failure of the polit-bureau..

The announcement today [After consulting her advisers? – Ed] by the Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, of the new detailed policies guidance for schools heralds the start of an era of de-regulation of the post-primary transfer system. And, as Mark Devenport suggests in the opening discussion on Stormont Live, it also signals the failure of regional government the semi-accountable, and semi-detached, polit-bureau here.

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  • Comrade Stalin

    It should be obvious what the outcome of the grammar schools introducing their own tests will be. There will be no preparation in primary school for those tests, therefore the result will be middle-class parents with the spare cash splashing out on extra after-hours tuition for their kids. The poorer kids as a result stand an even worse chance of getting in.

    Another resounding victory for Sinn Fein’s working class electorate.

  • ZoonPol

    I have to ask, what’s with the misspelling of politburu – or is it?

  • Pete Baker

    ZoonPol

    Rather than using the politburo spelling associated with other political systems, I settled on using a contraction of the English translation of the full original terminology, political bureau, to indicate our particular circumstances.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Politburo you mean ?

  • blinding

    Comrade Stalin said

    “the result will be middle-class parents with the spare cash splashing out on extra after-hours tuition for their kids. The poorer kids as a result stand an even worse chance of getting in.”

    The middle-class parents always have had and perhaps always will have this advantage.This does not really change this particular aspect that much

  • barnshee

    “The middle-class parents always have had and perhaps always will have this advantage”

    blinding (bleeding) obvious —Yep they always did but those pesky working class children (with what my grandpappy called brains) passed the dreaded 11+ and elbowed a lot of the scion of the aforementioned middle class aside.

    Now a la Ruane they can piss off to the local swamp comp and join the great unwashed while the appalling hypocrite Ruane sends her children to the best school she can find – a selective NI Grammar school – what an appaliing person

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    This is the one issue that SF and the DUP should have found common ground on – it has no constitutional significance and does not relate to the legacy of the troubles like the other outstanding issues – Police and Justice, the Irish language and the Bobby Bowl. Party politics aside – this is absolute shocker.

  • blinding

    Reply to barnshee

    Has Catríona Ruane abolished the brains of working class children.
    I was just pointing out a flaw in the argument of Comrade Stalin.

  • cynic

    “Has Catríona Ruane abolished the brains of working class children. ”

    No, only working class Catholic children. She needs to or why else would they ever vote for Sinn Fein in the future.

    You can just see it at the 2016 election.

    “Youse is thick because the wiked DUPs stopped usuns gettin the edusachun you deserved. Vota Sinn Fein”

    Learning is wasted on the masses anyway, dontcha think. They just need to know their place and not get ideas above their station.

    Now what school do her children go to, what is its stance on testing and will she insist that they be opted out of any opportunity to attend a good grammar? I know a few schools she could Granny them into in Belfast – you know, high levels of local deprivation, high % get free school meals, low attainment. It would show principles and committment to the proletarian struggle.

  • Comrade Stalin

    blinding:

    The middle-class parents always have had and perhaps always will have this advantage.This does not really change this particular aspect that much

    Er, it does, because now the transfer tests won’t be taught as part of the primary school cirriculum. Sure, first class kids will get in, but the others with innate ability who need a helping hand that they otherwise would have had in P6/P7 now won’t.

    Sammy:

    This is the one issue that SF and the DUP should have found common ground on – it has no constitutional significance and does not relate to the legacy of the troubles like the other outstanding issues – Police and Justice, the Irish language and the Bobby Bowl. Party politics aside – this is absolute shocker.

    The real question is about how utterly incompetent you have to be to alienate all the people who basically support you. The teacher’s unions all opposed the 11+, you would have thought they and Ruane would have had common ground. An opportunity to forge an alliance with the teachers was missed.

    This is, I’m afraid, another case of the DUP standing back while SF hoist themselves on their own petard. The party needs to figure out a way to advance it’s objectives, but before it even does that it needs to work out policies that won’t piss everyone off.

  • It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it

    CS,

    “This is, I’m afraid, another case of the DUP standing back while SF hoist themselves on their own petard.”

    This is BOTH of them playing politics. It is just as easy to blame one as the other.

    If there is clear case of where the other parties should step in and find a compromise then this it – what is to stop the UU the SDLP and Alliance getting together and coming up with something – or do they just trot out the same old shockingly tired line that it is up to the 2 big parties?

  • willis

    Comrade

    “The real question is about how utterly incompetent you have to be to alienate all the people who basically support you. The teacher’s unions all opposed the 11+, you would have thought they and Ruane would have had common ground. An opportunity to forge an alliance with the teachers was missed.”

    Not just the Teachers’ Unions, all of the Unions.

    A situation exists where the fault line will lie between the Catholic Grammars and Sinn Fein. Every parents’ meeting will include hard questions. Why should the SDLP step in to help Sinn Fein?

  • Has there also been a ‘failure’ of the Catholic hierarchy’s control of its schools?

  • NP

    “Er, it does, because now the transfer tests won’t be taught as part of the primary school cirriculum. Sure, first class kids will get in, but the others with innate ability who need a helping hand that they otherwise would have had in P6/P7 now won’t.”

    are you stupid ?

    of course primary (good) schools are going to keep pushing the kids towards the grammar tests.
    can’t see its really changed to be honest.They will keep the tests.

    Roll on good comps & proper intergated schools

  • Nevin,

    there has certainly been a failure of nerve among the Catholic hierarchy. Part of this might be that bourgeois Catholics have been sending more and more of their children to state grammars. The numbers are not hugely significant, but a trickle that they probably feared could become a torrent.

  • LURIG

    There’s nothing worse than a Castle Catholic snob; an awful shower of stuck up 4 x 4 erseholes who only talk about the value of their houses and getting into the golf club AND how their P7 Aisling or Fiontaoin is hoping to get into X, Y or Z if ‘only he/she listens to his/her private tutor’. They really make me boke HOWEVER in the greater scheme of things I can’t really blame them for the fear they have at the current confusion and abolishment of the 11+. I mean you only have to look at the wee scumbags running about the streets wrecking, stealing and joyriding to their hearts content. Fact is most of these scumbags have spent 5 years torturing and bullying other kids in the SECONDARY schools and WHO in their right minds wants their kids taught with these wee fookers? I know some of these parents are a shower of annoying nose in the air ‘we are having an organic tofu stir fry for tea’ pricks but they DO have the best interests of their kids at heart. The fact is that MOST of them WILL go against and defy Ruane’s attempts to kill off the grammar schools and selection AND if they have to send their kids to BRA, Methody, Inst. etc they WILL and to hell with the Catholic Church heirarchy.

  • USA

    Don’t know much about this subject but I can say I agree with the comment “to hell with the Catholic church heirarchy”.
    But drop your anti middle class rants. If folks have made a few quid they are entitled to spend it as they see fit – and that certainly includes spending it on their childrens education.

  • ZoonPol

    Pete you’re too smart some times, by half! Comrade Stalin: i appreciate your spelling correction but if we were all to correct each other’s grammar and spelling we may as well turn this forum into a English grammar forum. It’s enough that we all have common sense (sic).

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    This is BOTH of them playing politics. It is just as easy to blame one as the other.

    If there is clear case of where the other parties should step in and find a compromise then this it – what is to stop the UU the SDLP and Alliance getting together and coming up with something – or do they just trot out the same old shockingly tired line that it is up to the 2 big parties?

    Posted by It was Sammy Mc Nally what done it on Feb 02, 2009 @ 11:39 PM

    Fair points well made young sammy. I often wonder why the UUP and SDLP don’t come up with a few more proposals – surely these are good opportunities to show that these parties are capable of compromise and can work in the best interest of EVERYONE. But rather, they prefer to out DUP the DUP, and out SF the SF.

  • ZoonPol

    Why does she (Minister for Education) not recognise Northern Ireland unlike mature commentators on RTE etc? She has already failed Catholic Grammar Schools as they are creating their own tests but yet she expects State schools to follow the Minister of the ‘North of Ireland’s’ guidance? Maybe we should start referring to her role in the Columbian Three campaign and her comments about the IRA ‘local hero’ while performing her duties at St Colm’s High School in Twinbrook – by the way it has been stated in a book elsewhere that Sinn Fein allowed the ‘hungerstrikers’ to die so crudos for her.

  • willis

    LURIC

    Now that is a proper rant. V funny.

    Stereotypes besides, academic excellence is not usually aligned with physical strength or aggression, so keeping bullies apart from clever kids is for their best interests.

    Anyhow that is enough about why the SDLP and UUP don’t want to play with DUP and Sinn Fein.

  • Comrade Stalin

    This is BOTH of them playing politics. It is just as easy to blame one as the other.

    I accept that politics is being played but I do not accept that both parties are equally to blame. It’s Sinn Fein’s fault for changing the status quo without achieving consensus first. You can’t blame the DUP for refusing to go along with Ruane’s half-baked ideas, whether it’s for their own strategic reasons or not.

    If there is clear case of where the other parties should step in and find a compromise then this it – what is to stop the UU the SDLP and Alliance getting together and coming up with something – or do they just trot out the same old shockingly tired line that it is up to the 2 big parties?

    It may be a tired old line but I’m afraid it is the truth. It is up to the two big parties. They control the executive and the assembly through the cross-community voting system. Nothing gets through without their consent. Life would be different if we had a weighted majority executive. Then alternative proposals could be put and deals could be cut.

    SF are sowing the seeds of their long term destruction, when people begin to realize that the d’Hondt system means that they have no motivation to ensure that their policies appeal to the electorate.

  • Comrade Stalin

    NP:

    are you stupid ?

    of course primary (good) schools are going to keep pushing the kids towards the grammar tests.
    can’t see its really changed to be honest.They will keep the tests.

    Yes, I’m too stupid to understand how can they do that if there :

    (a) isn’t a standard test and
    (b) the tests aren’t on the primary cirriculum which means that the schools aren’t permitted to teach it ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    (sorry for the multiple postings)

    Pete you’re too smart some times, by half! Comrade Stalin: i appreciate your spelling correction but if we were all to correct each other’s grammar and spelling we may as well turn this forum into a English grammar forum. It’s enough that we all have common sense (sic).

    Zoonpool, the first person who posted a spelling correction was you.

  • Garibaldy, I noted this comment by Donal McKeown: “We are saying that all of us are publicly funded schools, all of us are being funded to the hilt by the Department of Education.”

    Perhaps there’s a fear amongst the Hierarchy that the Minister would use a financial club to keep schools in line. Do you imagine that such action is possible, that some schools might have a rebuild deliberately delayed?

  • ZoonPol

    Comrade Stalin didn’t i admit to it. That counts me out as an MLA then for they admit nothing except admit that they need to discuss another pay-rise.

  • From the press release:

    ‘Under Article 29 of the Education Order (NI) 2006, a new Exceptional Circumstances body will be established. Parents can apply to this body for a direction that on the grounds of ‘exceptional circumstances’ their child is admitted to a specific, grant-aided post-primary school.’

    Can’t you just see the middle classes lining up for that one?

  • the appalling hypocrite Ruane sends her children to the best school she can find – a selective NI Grammar school – what an appaliing person

    Posted by barnshee on Feb 02, 2009 @ 10:35 PM

    Please tell me more, for if true Ms Ruane should be moved to another post and replaced by someone who has a stake in ending selection?

    You folk are really missing an opportunity to build a first rate comprehensive education system. There is no doubt selection has failed for many children in the north and out of this failure springs many of the societal problems the north now faces.

    The old chestnut about the brightest working class children getting through the selective process is proved to be rubbish as children develop at differing paces. Admittedly some bright working class children get through the process but others are still left behind. Plus of course the kid can be as bright as a button but if they have a dud teacher in their primary school they are often done for life education and work wise.

    What this argument is about is a group of middle class parents clinging to their privileges as far as education is concerned and at the expense of others; and calm their consciences by making out they believe selection benefits all, when deep down they know this to be untrue as the statistic’s prove.

    The north is a small geographical area which gives you the opportunity to build a comprehensive system that could be a beacon to the world.

    Why not think outside your comfortable middle class box.

  • barnshee

    “the appalling hypocrite Ruane sends her children to the best school she can find – a selective NI Grammar school – what an appalling person

    Posted by barnshee on Feb 02, 2009 @ 10:35 PM

    Please tell me more, for if true Ms Ruane should be moved to another post and replaced by someone who has a stake in ending selection?”

    Try
    http://saoirse32.blogsome.com/2009/01/31/all-catholic-grammars-to-defy-ruane-on-tests/

  • Jen Erik

    “Can’t you just see the middle classes lining up for that one?”

    Yes, I would. If it was applicable, I’d use it in a heartbeat. Why not?
    Or, I suppose, why wouldn’t you? If you genuinely thought your child would be happiest at Buttercup High – for whatever reason – and thought there was a chance they’d get in under ‘exceptional circumstances’: that is, there was a real argument to be made that they should attend the school – why wouldn’t you give it a try?

  • eilis

    I’m sure it will be similar to the Special Circumstances/Special Provisions which already exist.

  • jone

    It’ll be interesting to see how the grammars grade the tests – will they want anyone to fail?

    If they set the bar high in pursuit of an elite, academic intake (what they claim they’re looking for)then some schools like Cambridge House in Ballymena will have to close because on the basis of their current intake (C and D grades aplenty)they won’t have anywhere near enough ‘academic’ kids.

    Similarly most grammars in Belfast rely on kids who get lower grades to make up the numbers.

    Will the very fact of taking the test get your kid through the door on the basis that it sends the message that you’re the ‘right sort’ of family?

  • frustrated democrat

    Mike

    The syatem hasn’t failed the children, their parents have, the brightest will succeed from what ever background, if they have the correct support at home – I came from a background which today would be called abject poverty and succeeded becasuse of supportive parents and teachers, without whom I would have got nowhere.

    Now what is being proposed is a system that replaces bad or ineffective parents with a downgrading of all education.

    I’m sorry that does nothing for the future of NI.

  • Jen Erik

    “Why not think outside your comfortable middle class box.”

    Huge assumptions everywhere in that post.

    At the time of the consultation I filled in that I thought selection at 14 was better, because I think many children at that age know whether they want to go the very academic route, or not. I know a lot of m/c people who think that: it’s a generalisation to assume all m/c people want to retain the Transfer Test. (FWIW, the only person I know who was wedded to the idea of the Transfer Test is my husband, and that’s because he was w/c, from a disadvantaged area, and sees it as one of the few escape routes from social deprivation.)

    However, that’s not the question at the moment. Question isn’t ‘What sort of education system do you ideally want?’. It’s ‘Do you think the education system as it stands is better than a deregulated system?’

    And people have all sorts of concerns about that. They’re worried that schools will go private: that possibly they’ll be stuck paying fees for a younger child if they want them educated with an older child. They’re worried that a London-like situation will prevail – with children sitting multiple tests for a few selective schools, or buying houses to be in the catchment areas of better schools.

    Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be a concrete plan for an excellent comprehensive system. I don’t doubt it could be done, but I’d want to see the money. I just don’t believe that my daughter’s secondary school can, without extra funding, suddenly next year take the bright child and get them the 10 As they need, if they want to go into medicine.
    This doesn’t effect my children, Mick, so I’m not – I don’t think – motivated by a need to retain privilege.
    I just don’t see where the excellent system you talk about can come from unless the change is managed and properly funded.

  • seniorhas

    For the benefit of barnshee et al,if Ruane junior lived in the RoI when her parent applied for a Year 8 place at a Newry GS she could only have obtained a place in a NI Grammar School if there were places remaining after all the applicants, of whatever grade and none, from Northern Ireland had been accepted and there were still places remaining.Given this unlikely situation, unless it was an unusual year, then either Ms Ruane would have had to prove that the child was living in “The North” or there is another reason. If Ms Ruane applied for a place when her daughter left a primary school in “The South” then it would be up to the Newry GS to make a decision as to her suitability for a GS place in Year 9.

    Ms Ruane statements as to how much better and easier the system is in “The South” do not seem to take account of the facts. The southern system in many areas, particularly the larger towns, is as class-based and selective as here and there is also the fact that the the private sector is very heavily subsidised since the state pays the teachers’ salaries for these schools. The statemnts by the Catholic hierarchy about selection in “The North” are very much in conflict with what they do in “The South”.

  • CYNIC

    So where are the detailed polices she promised?Anyone spot them yet?

    All those advisers and this is the best she can produce? Defeat. Total defeat which she is trying to brazen out.

    40 love to the DUPs I think … or should that be 40 – love to all the bright kids

    More importantly she has now totally failed all those kids who have problems and who just arent so bright. What now for them? Well, Minister? Cat got your tongue?

    Up to now you were able to dress this up as a ‘them and us’ issue. Now its settled. So what are you actually going to DO for those who are disadvantaged and don’t get qualifications?

    The future of the grammars was always a useful smokescreen to hide your total lack of ideas and polices on this …. that argument was always an irrelevance to them …but now the smoke is clearing, so what are you going to do? Pray tell us.

  • NP

    Uncle Joe, i imagine the tests won’t be standardised. & each grammar school will have its own catchment area. Roll on full Comps & intergrated schools.

  • jone

    Having checked it seems what we’ll have from the AQE is a commom entrance exam but the way that data is used will be far from common as the Bel Tel explains

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/new-common-entrance-exam-to-be-unveiled-to-primaries-13895403.html

    “Pupils sitting the tests will be awarded a score rather than a grade and it will then be up to individual schools to decide how these are used.

    “Some may allocate places in rank order while others may decide to use different criteria to allocate places among pupils they judge as suited to a grammar school place.”

    So that leaves the way open to carrying on admitting kids who are miles away from the ‘gold standard’ the grammar lobby keep chuntering on about. And from the look of that second paragraph it seems as though the grammars will be reserving the right to exclude kids who they deem to be a bit rough.

    The judicial review barristers must be rubbing their hands.

  • frustrated democrat

    I understand the point you make about some parents failing there children; and I concede one of the reason some working class children do not succeed educationally is their parents do not have enough ambition for their kids. (This has nothing to do with not loving their children etc)

    However what you are refusing to accept is that this is due to the overwhelming majority of such parents themselves having been through the north’s failed educationally system. Thus they are totally ill-equipped to guide their own kids education.

    Without doubt this is due to a failure in the system and I believe a deliberate one, as it means the offspring of middle class parents, who understand the system and the value of a good education, will not have to face as much competition in the jobs market.

    In todays world education is the main avenue to a more fulfilling life, true it is not the only way, but it is still the main way. This is why the middle classes are so defensive about this subject.

  • Comrade Stalin

    NP:

    Uncle Joe, i imagine the tests won’t be standardised.

    That’s exactly my point, they won’t. So it won’t be possible for primary schools to effectively teach them. Of course, it could be possible that the grammars will get together and decide to standardize by themselves, funding an independent exam-setting body that will base the exams on the standard cirriculum. In which case both the selection system and the tests will have been reintroduced through the back door.

    & each grammar school will have its own catchment area.

    Who says ? That isn’t the case now. Ruane’s plan is that there will be no such thing as grammar schools

  • ??

    Admittedly some bright working class children get through the process but others are still left behind. …….

    Mick your argument is more to do with failing secondary schools that grammar schools which provide excellent education. It is the comprehensive side that has failed thus far.

  • Mick your argument is more to do with failing secondary schools that grammar schools which provide excellent education. It is the comprehensive side that has failed thus far.

    ??

    No it is not, because a grammar school system drags the others down, I wish to bring all schools up to the standards of the best grammar schools. But of course those who support selection will have none of that, for were it to happen the schools they support would no longer be elitist and thus they would gain no advantage by supporting them.

    Thus when you have an elitist system you must have sink schools to, otherwise there is no point in selection. Oh, those who support inequality will say well everyone cannot be academically qualified, I believe they are wrong, we know selection does not work for the majority of children.

    Thus if we lived in a fair and rational country we would be giving non selection a go. After all we know from the rest of the UK that comprehensives can produce far better exam result than when selection was in place.

    But we do not, we allow a minority who benefit from selection to dictate education policy for the majority.

    Madness.

  • Jim Henson – Muppett Master

    Mick et al.

    Your rationale for comprehensivisation is bereft of evidence. The persistent pursuit of this unattainable goal places the needs of pupils and parents behind the various sectoral interests of those who raised expectations.

    The most egregious manipulation is being carried out by the Catholic church, directed by Donal McKeown, who is seeking to move the debate back to (s)election at 14. In his latest intervention, based upon a unilateral church announcement after the minister’s withdrawal of her CCEA test, suggests that the solution will be found in five weeks.

    McKeown and his disciples will be pressuring influence rs and heads in the non-Catholic community to align with the Catholic approach in the name of unity. However his main purpose is to secure the Catholic school system from loss of pupils to the non-Catholic sector. The Catholic church doesn’t want to offer grammar schools for Catholic pupils but doesn’t want them to attend Non-catholic grammars either.

    Fascism springs to mind. Eh Donal?