Grammar school postcode lottery..?

DURING Gerry Adams’ speech today, he mentioned some education statistics that raised a few eyebrows. While bigging up Education Minister Caitriona Ruane’s abolition of the 11-plus, Adams said: “Look at last year’s figures for children transferring from primary school to grammar school. Now just take the Belfast figures – it’s the same all over the six counties. On the Falls, 44. On the Shankill, 10. On the Malone Road, 214. There’s something wrong there folks.” There certainly is, but I hope it’s not the stats, as they’re pretty startling (and neatly covered the fact that the replacing of the 11-plus is a complete shambles).

  • I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were accurate. Hard to deny the inequity when faced with them, but I expect the rush to start soon.

  • The Raven

    And yet, 44 still get through…10 still get through…is it just the education system that needs change? Or other things too?

    One thing about all of this that always annoyed me – why being smart in some communities wasn’t a good thing; why it was something to be sneered at; why trying hard and succeeding at something like the transfer test (or indeed anything else) was as much a badge of shame, as it was to fail it (apparently in later life).

    Just a thought.

  • Rory Carr

    Keep going please, Raven. This is an observation (“just a thought”, you modestly say) that might be blindingly obvious to all those but those who would be blinded by its very obviousness.

    It seems to me that those most recently upwardly aspirant in social mobility tend also to be those who are most desperate to deny that mobility to the class from which they have assumed they escaped. Sad bastards indeed but, there you go.

    There is no accounting for the effects of fear and greed upon the human psyche, which explains why any man, having himself suffered as a child by being exposed to the stultifying regime of slavish cant taught by the grammar shool system, should wish it upon any other human child never mind a child of his own defeats me.

    I soon expect to read a response from the, “Nuffink wrong wiv capital punishment” school of thought.

    “We ‘ad it in my day, that there capital punishment. Never done me no ‘arm”.

    We deny life itself and the very possibilities of the very best of all that that the potential of human growth has to offer when we make for distinction, segregation, selection and crude judgement of the best that each and every child within our care has to offer. What a waste. What terrible cruelty that condemns the child of materially successful parents to responsibilities beyond his ken and denies to society the educated genius of the child from a poorer background.

  • The Raven

    One thing about all of this that always annoyed me – why being smart in some communities wasn’t a good thing; why it was something to be sneered at; why trying hard and succeeding at something like the transfer test (or indeed anything else) was as much a badge of shame, as it was to fail it (apparently in later life).

    You’re not going to get the answer to that from Gerry Adams who, while influenced most likely by his parents, actually took the 11+ seriously enough to pass it. Later he took his influences from elsewhere and managed to fail to pass even a single GCE. So we got the Troubles from him and big Ian because they were too smart for the rest of the world.

    One day we’ll waken up to the delinquency at the heart of Sinn Fein policy on everything, not just education.

  • joeCanuck

    When I sat the 11+ (1959) typically about 25% went on to Grammar School. Has that percentage changed ?( children can’t be stupider, they’re probably smarter).

  • Like with the rest of his speech Mr Adams correctly outlined the problem, but where are his solutions?

    To date all Caitriona Ruane has succeeded in doing is widening the class divide by dergulating the system and allowing schools to become even more selective.

    He lacks credibility on this issue and his party has failed on it.

  • The Raven

    Yeah Rory, I think – forgive me if I am wrong – we’re going to the same place but via slightly different directions.

    I went to a grammar school. Thoroughly hated it – but then as now, I recognise that it opened certain possibilities for some that the comp across the road didn’t. It opened possibilities for me too, just in a different way. Much of what I learned from one or two top-class teachers stands me in good stead today.

    Similarly, twenty years, I now see that there were possibilities opened up by the comp, that the grammar could never have for me or anyone else; I recognise this when I watch one of my best friends shape a piece of wood, a skill he learned at a comp, and then turned into a successful career. He creates, and he creates from what he learned at what some people class as a mediocre school.

    I hate the fact that the opportunity to really shape “well rounded” and multi-skilled individuals is lost because of a division in our school system. I wonder how many carpenters or sparks were denied from the workplace, because they passed the 11+. Similarly, how many topflight solicitors, accountants, or other white collar workers were lost because they failed it.

    I return to my original point, and that – I think – of Rory’s. A complete overhaul of how we develop, teach, encourage and mould our kids needs to be designed. Perhaps it should be led by the kids themselves.

    Because, for sure, our politicians don’t have a clue. Ruane ain’t got it. Gerry, by listing ONLY those stats, ain’t got it. Reg – in the work he is trying to do through apprenticeships *sometimes* gets it, and then loses it. And the DUP certainly don’t have it.

    And the communities which fail to encourage our kids or sneer at those who wish to excel – oh yes, it happens, folks – need to learn that they are failing not only the kids – but themselves too.

    I’ve included this line before in other posts – it has always stuck with me, even though it’s from a TV show:

    “Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic, monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be making six figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.”

    What a waste indeed, Rory.

  • ??

    the problem wasnt the 11 plus but the schooling these kids received up to the age of 11, must be some shocking teachers in the shankill area but noone seems to mention this.

  • veritas

    there are no valid arguments for discrimination in education provision….

    the sooner we lose the middle class grammar schools the better…

  • Chris Donnelly

    The Raven
    Great quote, remember seeing it somewhere. Can you remind me where exactly?

    Joe Canuck
    I think the figure of kids attending grammar schools is nearer to 40% now.

    JohnO’Connell
    Probably doesn’t help that he’s the anti-Christ eh???

    Gonzo
    I’d be pretty confident that the stats for Falls refer to what others might call ‘Lower Falls’ (but is the ‘real’ Falls) as opposed to west Belfast- else the stats wouldn’t add up.

    Whilst it doesn’t resolve the developing mess, it does no harm to deliver these stark reminders as they are the primary reason why reform is required.

    ??
    I wouldn’t want to engage in ‘slagging off’ fellow teachers nor specific schools, but I’ve always thought there is something wrong with any school which can not deliver a certain basic level of academic performance.

    I teach in an all-boys primary in an urban working class district that hits the top ten percent in virtually all of the deprivation measures for the 580-odd wards and has 50% pupils entitled to FSM. Yet we can consistently get A grades for between 20-35% of Primary 7 pupils, never mind those achieving B and C grades.

    The school culture has a lot to do with it. Whatever system ultimately ends up replacing the current one will still have to address the same problems- namely, raising expectations, standards and results in schools where reasons can always be found to explain under-achievement.

    That’s not to diminish the real problems faced by teachers, principals and BoG’s in certain districts which simply can not be fathomed by many who have breezed through a grammar school education and deride such instutions as ‘bog standard’ (as one DUP MLA did in the Assembly last week.)

    These schools require a significant funding commitment to address problems with parental support, homework, class sizes, special needs etc. not to mention a firm commitment to be supported in adopting the type of zero tolerance policy to indiscipline that’ll be required to ‘turn around’ the popular perception of certain schools.

    But they also must know that under-achievement won’t be accepted, and in this regard I’d hope the ESAGS (Every School A Good School) policy may deliver to some degree.

  • cynic

    Why blame the teachers?

    When you have kids coming to school every day unfed and unwashed? When they are allowed to roam the streets at all hours? When school books just get ‘lost’ or destroyed? When there is no parental interest at all in the child’s education? When learning is laughed at? When there is nowhere at home to study because the TV is constantly on and anyway why would you bother? When parents are often drunk or stoned? When a single mother is desperately trying to bring up too many kids on benefit that doesn’t go far enough?

    The fundamental issues of under-achievement in these communities lies in these communities and its the same in Catholic and Protestant areas. But sloganising is a hell of a lot easier than doing anything isn’t it.

    So yes, Gerry, “There’s something wrong there folks” but what exactly are your party doing about it apart from wrapping yourselves in a flag and shouting ‘United Ireland’? Pray tell us how Catriona’s Cock Up will address these social problems?

  • Comrade Stalin

    So Sinn Fein complain that few working class kids go to grammar schools.

    So instead of trying to deal with the question of why this is, they instead hatch a plan to get rid of grammar schools. The result of their failure to achieve this means that they don’t get rid of grammar schools, and working class kids are even less likely to go to them than they were before. Ingenius.

  • Quagmire

    #

    Like with the rest of his speech Mr Adams correctly outlined the problem, but where are his solutions?

    To date all Caitriona Ruane has succeeded in doing is widening the class divide by dergulating the system and allowing schools to become even more selective.

    He lacks credibility on this issue and his party has failed on it.
    Posted by Conall McDevitt on Feb 21, 2009 @ 08:37 PM

    Are you still on the SDLP paylist Conall?

  • Learned this week that Ruane is finally going to ask the children themselves…i.e. those that go through the transfer. would be good to ask those who went through the test over past 5 years to see whether it was worthwhile. As to the Snankill/Falls figures, I remember in school (and it was a long time ago!) that doing the transfer was not a big deal, just one of those things. I got an ‘A’ and still went to a secondary school (my mates were going there) where I and those who ‘failed’ managed to get to uni…Ruane needs to sit down and re-consider this for a couple of years before rushing in to this change

  • Harry Flashman

    This post code “lottery” business is absurd nonsense, just like the situation in health it stands to reason that people who live in wealthier areas will be better educated and healthier than those who live in deprived areas. It’s common sense, it isn’t a random happening and it isn’t some sort of sinister plot by middle class toffs to down the horny handed sons of toil.

    Let me explain for you, how do people get to live in ‘posh’ areas? Hmm? Anyone want to hazard a guess? Are they just randomly given a nice five bedroom semi-detached on the Malone Road by the winds of fate?

    No they get it because they worked for it, they worked damned hard for it, they saved money, they didn’t waste opportunities given to them and they then more often than not married a similar partner. They are in short, intelligent people, they got to live in the posh area by being intelligent, furthermore by the rules of natural selection of which we are all so certain here on SO’T, they most probably produce intelligent children. Is anyone else seeing a pattern here yet?

    Now of course there might well be very many equally intelligent children in the poorer deprived areas. But after sixty years of welfarism there probably are a helluva a lot fewer than there were before the Bevan reforms. In other words, and I’ll try to break this gently, there are a higher proportion of pretty stupid people who make stupid life decisions and behave stupidly along with fellow stupid people in the more deprived areas. And as an inverse of the process mentioned above, when two stupid people mate, what sort of offspring do they rear? Little Einsteins do you think?

    In this day and age with the massive subventions hoovered up by the government and firehosed at the “poor” we can only conclude that the reason people who live in deprived areas still live crap lives is more often due to personal decisions taken by them along the way than any plots designed by top hat wearing snobs twirling their waxy moustaches and cackling maniacally as the poor wee Oliver Twists and Orphan Annies are deprived of their legitimate birthrights.

  • Dave

    It shows that the middle class encourage their children to work hard and prosper. Parents on the Falls Road and on the Shankill Road should try to emulate parents on Malone Road rather than blame the state for their own deficiencies. I wonder if juvenile delinquency is a postcode lottery do? Anyone got the sums? 😉

  • Dave

    too*

  • No Quagmire I am NOT on the SDLP paylist. I can read a speech though and I do see SF’s record in the Executive and feel very dissapointed.

    I will support anyone who is willing to show some leadership on key issues like education, the economy and the environment. I don’t see any from SF at the moment.

    Conall

  • foreign correspondent

    HF has just trotted out the old ´if you are poor it´s because you´re stupid´ line. I´m sorry but that´s rubbish.

  • fair_deal

    Believe it or not the 10 is an improvement it had dropped to 0 at one stage.

    ?? and CD gets it right that it is in the primary school the focus needs to be. The fascination and focus on the 11+ has done significant harm in shutting all the other issues of educational under-achievement out.

    Those that the system fails entirely never even sit the 11+ and their educational issues are clear from virtually the first day the start to attend school with many arriving up to 2 years behind in terms of development that they should be.

    American research also points strongly to the issue of leadership as a key factor in schools. However, there is a lack of quality in many schools in terms of leadership and those that do have good leaders are hampered by the ELB’s. Devolution to principals is more myth than reality.

    For Unionist politicians the challenge is being willing to admit that in many of these areas the schools are too small and any extra funding for educational need these small schools get usually end up going to pay ordinary running costs rather than delivery anything extra. (I am not advocating super primaries but the schools being much closer to the average size that they are now.)

    The funding formula also needs revisitied to bolster the use of the Key stage III results as an indicator for allocation of resources and become less about bums on seats that it presently is.

  • willis

    “Now of course there might well be very many equally intelligent children in the poorer deprived areas. But after sixty years of welfarism there probably are a helluva a lot fewer than there were before the Bevan reforms.”

    Which is a brilliant argument for the welfare state.

    The early years of the Welfare State created great social mobility.

    The big problem for this socially mobile, open society which happens to speak the second language of most of the World’s population is that it is a magnet for poor but intelligent people throughout the world.

    If you get a chance to see the hilarious call-centre scene in “Slumdog Millionaire” you will see exactly what I am talking about.

    So how does this relate to Grizzly’s speech? Perhaps a comparison with Glasgow or Dublin would have provided similar results.

  • willis

    Fair deal

    Spot on.

  • Willis,

    Hasn’t social mobility fallen in the UK to its lowest level in decades?

  • willis

    Gari

    It depends what you mean by social mobility.

    The ability for clever English speaking non-nationals to move up and through the social system is a form of social mobility.

    The ability for clever working and middle class women to get an increasing number of professional jobs is a form of social mobility.

    The decline (some would say destruction) of our mining and manufacturing base has impacted particularly on working class men. This has meant that for them in particular the trend has gone into reverse.

    Welfareism is part of the problem, but I remember an anti-welfarism slogan from my youth:

    “Coal not Dole”.

  • Glen Taisie

    St Louise’s on the Falls Road is the areas largest Comphrensive,surely prospectivee pupils from the Falls are not required to do the 11+.?

    Is there a comparable Comprehensive on the Malone Road?

    Me thinks, Gerry,s stats may not tell an accurate story

  • willis

    G T

    Why do you describe St Louise’s as a Comprehensive?

    Was there no 11+ in Belfast?

  • St Louise’s describes itself as a comprehensive. But the idea that kids nearby don’t have to do the 11+ for that reason seems to me not to follow in the slightest. Parents are of course free not to subject their children to the 11+. And many cho0se not to. But that is, sorry was, true across the north.

  • willis

    Which then allows Edwin Poots to describe the non-Grammars as “Bog-Standard Comprehensives”

  • Chris Donnelly

    Probably doesn’t help that he’s the anti-Christ eh???

    You said it, Chris.

    But why is Gerry Adams the Antichrist?

    Click on

    http://johnoconnell.org/Why Gerry Adams is the Antichrist.htm

  • Correction

    See http://www.johnoconnell.org

    Click On Revelation

    Click on Why Gerry Adams is the Antichrist

  • Ginger

    The statistics are correct and serve to highlight the problem with our current system. The other point that should be noted, as post primary schools fill the same pupil number year on year, the result you may get one year is a pass, but in another year would be a fail. However, rather than scrapping the system, they would be better served ensuring that secondary schools are brought up to an acceptable standard.

  • willis

    “However, rather than scrapping the system, they would be better served ensuring that secondary schools are brought up to an acceptable standard.”

    That would be good. Any suggestions?

  • Nestor Makhno

    They are in short, intelligent people, they got to live in the posh area by being intelligent…

    I take it then, Harry, that you don’t live in one of the posher parts of Belfast?

  • Ginger

    Plenty! But none that Catriona would listen to. It is actually a more feasible option than the DE minister would let on. There are plenty of good secondary schools out there, e.g. Girls Model and Our Lady of Mercy, both in North Belfast and with catchment areas that would make many a pincipal cry. Use these as models of best practice, make sure secondary schools have the level of resources they require and finally and most importantly make sure that people realise failing your 11 plus is not the end of your life.

  • Harry Flashman

    “I take it then, Harry, that you don’t live in one of the posher parts of Belfast?”

    No, I live in a really posh part of a different city, a suburb that makes the Malone Road look like Ballysillan. Any other questions?

    Would anyone like to refute my basic assumption that people who live in “deprived” areas might actually do so because they’re too stupid to do otherwise?

    Look, it will no doubt ease your guilt ridden middle class consciences to condemn me for being “offensive” but the sooner yez all wise up and realise that there’s feck all you can do for a certain section of society that actually chooses to live in depraved nihilism the better it will be for your mental well-being. Yes I use the word “chooses” deliberately, I have never seen Chinese or Indian immigrants who arrive without tuppence ha’penny to rub together behave in the squalid, bestial, utterly dehumanising manner that so many of our urban underclass seem to relish.

    The people of the Malone Road aren’t driving into Rathcoole or Ardoyne and forcibly insisting that the inhabitants drop out of school, have children to multiple partners before their eighteenth birthday, blow their dole money on booze and take aways, beat the living shite out of their neighbours and turn their lives and the lives of their children into 21st Century parodies of Hogarth’s Gin Alley.

    If stupid people insist on being stupid, well the intelligent people aren’t to blame. I know that offends the sensibilities of the sort of idiots who read the Guardian and Irish Times but it happens to be, in the words of Al Gore, “an inconvenient truth”.

  • Harry,

    Do you think some people stay in working class areas because they have been too frightened to move? Or for familial reasons perhaps? Or to have more disposable income by living in a cheaper house?

    If you wish to suggest there is a lumpen section then please do so; but if you wish to tar all with the same brush, then please explain why you reject other possibilities.

  • Reader

    Garibaldy: Do you think some people stay in working class areas because…
    At last, dialogue.
    The disappearance of blue collar jobs hasn’t helped. The troubles didn’t help either – Bangor doubled in size, now half of Bangor commutes into Belfast each morning. In short – anyone with any get up and go, got up and went. In some communities, people don’t live in Belfast because that’s where the work is – they live there because that’s where their parents live(d).
    In my opinion, Harry overstates the sorting effect of all of this. There is plenty of untapped, blighted, wasted talent in the city estates, but the damage is done by the classmates, by the parents, by the community, and eventually – probably – by their school.
    Political speeches that refuse to acknowledge this as the biggest blight on education do far more harm than good.
    There have been recent efforts to build confidence among pupils in the early stages of education, to save disillusionment later – the Revised Curriculum. First observations: Everyone is happier, but the gap is still widening.

  • I don’t accept Reader that everybody with got up and go got up and went. I think that is wrong. Go to any working class housing estate. As well as the hoods and all the rest, you will see very well kept houses, people working hard, cultural activities etc etc. Plus during the Troubles and the years afterwards, people did not want to move out of areas where they felt safe.

    Clearly there area cultural reasons for lack of educational attainment amongst many, part of a bigger problem across the western world. But this is my no means the case with the majority. What is a problem is where class effectively determines access to quality education. Political speechmaking that ignores the other problems is wrong; but so to is trying to deny what the figures make clear – the 11+ disadvantages children from lower income families.

  • Erasmus

    Sorry John O’Connell.
    You’re arithmetically challenged. I did the sums and Gerry Adams comes out as 6-4-6 not 6-6-6.
    You should sit the 11+.

  • By the time I post this, someone will have beaten me to it.

    The quotation The Raven @ 08:42 PM [Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything.] used is from The West Wing.

    The clip is on YouTube.

    Alternatively, look for Series 1, episode 18, Six Meetings Before Lunch.

    One point well made is that the 11+ is not to do with intelligence or aptitude. Like too many examinations it is about nurture and culture. That’s the point Adams is making, as it was pointedly made by David Ervine and many others. Schools can only build on what students bring from home: it is difficult, if not impossible, to work against the grain.

    The success of the Butler Act was that it was facilitating the social change that was generally desired in the post-war years. In one generation, it changed the class-structure of the UK.

    What went wrong thereafter?

    For a start, the composition of the teaching force changed. Teachers in the ’40s and ’50s (especially those in selective schools) had — to borrow Denis Healey’s word — “hinterland”. They taught, not necessarily because of some “calling”, but because it was a ready source of comfortable and respected employment. Younger, later, graduates had a far wider choice of far better paid careers: hence all those accountants, lawyers and company executives.

    Later still, in the Thatcher years, the working conditions were so degraded (a school could expect re-decoration on average every seventy years; a set of text-books was a miracle) only the most-committed or least-informed went into the trade. In effect, with some rare exceptions, recruitment was coming from further and further down the scale of intellect.

    The dumbing-down was compounded by the imposition of the National Curriculum, which drew a line under the whole “liberal education” ethos.

    That, with its narrowness, repetition, continuous-testing rituals, in turn, guaranteed a worsening experience for many pupils. They are now the parents of the present generation of school students. Poll the disaffected in the classrooms and playgrounds: one clear finding is that their attitude to school is determined by the paucity of the diet they are being offered, but often infected by the attitude of embittered parents.

    Add in the great, chronic failure (especially in the English system): the lack of craft training. That was the escape route for refugees from the academic classroom. We didn’t need plumbers, car-mechanics and cabinet-makers, did we? Anyway, it was cheaper to hack polystyrene than wood.

    Meanwhile, for the middle-class parents whose children make it, the attitude is “We are the precious chosen few, let all the rest be damned. There’s only room for one or two: we can’t have heaven crammed.”

  • Dave

    The nurture and culture part of the argument is self-evident. People who live in ‘posh’ areas earned their social mobility by hard work (in the case of the professional classes) and enterprise (in the case of the business classes). A degree in law or accountancy or a canny business plan will not by itself generate wealth, so the factor that those who are very successful in their respective fields have in common is a dynamic character that puts an emphasis on hard work, self-reliance, progress, and achievement. That is then instilled into their children with similar effects, and that’s the nurture/culture part of the equation.

    On the other side of the divide, you have people who are dependent on the Nanny-state, believing that they have a ‘right’ to live off the taxes generated from the hard work and enterprise of the more prosperous social classes while having no reciprocal obligation to contribute to society. This underclass sees their own failure to succeed as a failure of the State rather than as a lack of ability and character and an abundance of laziness and self-entitlement on their part, seeing their own poverty as simply a failure of the State to provide them with sufficient levels of other peoples’ wealth. Likewise, that is then absorbed/instilled into their children with similar effects.

    It is also self-evident that people are more likely to be successful if they are of higher intelligence; and that they will marry people who are similar to themselves, producing children who inherit their higher intelligence, so you would likely find a higher concentration of intelligent people living on the Malone Road than you would find on the Falls or Shankill roads. Their children will then do better on average than the children who come from the lower social classes, so nurture/culture is only part of the equation.

  • Erasmus

    You’re arithmetically challenged. I did the sums and Gerry Adams comes out as 6-4-6 not 6-6-6.

    So in a flash of inspiration in one afternoon you have got the right answer to a calculation I made twenty-three years ago and – here’s the beauty of it – have checked at least a 1,000 times. Did you even check your calculation once?

    try http://johnoconnell.org

    click Revelation and

    click The number of the beast calculated

  • Harry Flashman

    Would anyone like to refute my basic assumption that people who live in “deprived” areas might actually do so because they’re too stupid to do otherwise?

    I won’t refute that if you don’t refute the fact that it is all the shallow people who live in posh areas.

    There has always been a trade-off between the ignorant and the shallow, and it’s called the decent people who would never try to assert such a flawed truth as you assert, only telling half the story.

  • Glencoppagagh

    Dave
    “A degree in law ….. will not by itself generate wealth”
    Certainly not in this part of the world. How much of lawyers income doesn’t come from the state, do you reckon? For barristers hardly any and for solicitors probably less than half.

    Pity to spoil an otherwise cogent argument.

  • Erasmus

    John,

    Why have you checked your answer so many times? It would seem that you lack confidence in your arithmetic ability.
    I know that my answer is correct. I think you should check yours another few times.
    Sorry lad. I was taught by the “Bird” himself.

  • Quagmire

    “No Quagmire I am NOT on the SDLP paylist. I can read a speech though and I do see SF’s record in the Executive and feel very dissapointed.

    I will support anyone who is willing to show some leadership on key issues like education, the economy and the environment. I don’t see any from SF at the moment.

    Conall
    Posted by Conall McDevitt on Feb 22, 2009 @ 08:54 AM

    Shame, the stoops could do with some good PR. Putting Ian og on the front of their website is defo not the way to go, neither is advocating a return to Unionist Majority (mis)rule or describing one’s party as “post nationalist”, whatever that means, especially when you primarily receive your votes from the broad nationalist constituency. They should defo consider giving you a shout mate to garner a few helpful tips.

  • willis

    Damn fine piece Malcolm, you are not short of a bit of hinterland.

    Perhaps the recession will re-boot our vacuous money and celebrity obsessed society. It is good to know there is one place where serious knowledge is celebrated:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2009/feb/22/university-challenge-trimble

  • Glen Taisie

    From the St Louises website

    ” In this outstanding school, we have always rejected the unjust, selective system of education in Northern Ireland . All our young people deserve the best quality education we can provide ”

    Prospective pupils to the largest comprehensice college on the Falls Road do not need to do the 11+. Gerry needs to further explain his stats.

    Can anyone tell me which Comprehensive college services the Malone Road?

    .

  • Reader

    Garibaldy: but so to is trying to deny what the figures make clear – the 11+ disadvantages children from lower income families.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Correlation_does_not_imply_causation
    For instance – do you reject Chris Donnelly’s observations? Clearly, low income on its own isn’t a sentence of doom. That’s just pandering to the environmental determinists.
    Even if you reject all of the alternative causes, and combinations of causes, that you have seen here, there are still the other two problems:
    Why are the affected pupils doing so very badly in a comprehensive primary system?
    How will a comprehensive secondary system fix the damage done in a comprehensive primary system?

  • I have just spent a few minutes trying to access education statistics for Northern Ireland.

    I am particularly interested (motivated by this thread) to see if I can determine the expenditure per pupil and pupil/teacher ratios for types of school.

    Any avenue I try produces either historical material (pre-2005) or a file-error.

    Is this happenstance, circumstance or enemy action?

    For what it’s worth, I should expect that the grammar schools would show a significantly larger expenditure, and better PTR than other secondary schools. This is in part attributable to the better tertiary level retention rate. On the other hand, it also ignores the “parental contribution” that such schools generally attract.

  • Erasmus

    I know that my answer is correct. I think you should check yours another few times.
    Sorry lad. I was taught by the “Bird” himself.

    I assure you that your answer is incorrect. I have grade A in my A’level Maths and was an accountant. Try learning your maths from a maths teacher rather than a bird for one bird in the hand is purported to be worth two in the bush.

  • kensei

    Dave

    The nurture and culture part of the argument is self-evident. People who live in ‘posh’ areas earned their social mobility by hard work (in the case of the professional classes) and enterprise (in the case of the business classes).

    Not even close to being true. Go read Gladwell’s “Outliers” to get a sense of the types of advantages that successful people have.

    Out of interest: do you reckon it’s harder or easier to get on the housing ladder if your parents can give you a 20 grand deposit?

    Reader

    For instance – do you reject Chris Donnelly’s observations? Clearly, low income on its own isn’t a sentence of doom. That’s just pandering to the environmental determinists.

    No, but clearly rich schools get lots of advantages that schools in poorer areas don’t. If you set your school system up as a competition, those small advantages are going to get compounded and magnified.

    Two young sprinters finish with the same time. One has had top of the line coaching for ten years, the other has bad much more modest training. Which one do you accept for Olympic training? What if the poorer one was say, half a second slower?

    Remember that the figures Adams quoted represent not just injustice, but lost utility. In damaging our young people we damage ourselves.

    How will a comprehensive secondary system fix the damage done in a comprehensive primary system?

    The question is a good one, but beware of non sequitirs. That says the primary sector has issues of its own, and it’s not how we want to set up secondary; “comprehensive” is a broad brush. But it doesn’t follow that the 11+ is therefore the correct answer.

  • Reader

    Kensei: Two young sprinters finish with the same time. One has had top of the line coaching for ten years, the other has bad much more modest training. Which one do you accept for Olympic training? What if the poorer one was say, half a second slower?
    Interesting analogy. I’m not quite sure whether it’s a direct comment on presumed 11+ coaching out of school, or a comment on people’s life experiences in the first 7 years of education.
    If it’s about external tuition, how many hours a week can realistically be added to 30 hours a week already – or is the extra tuition meant to add super value because of extra motivation and focus? (That’s starting to go round the circle again, isn’t it?) The existing 11+ was eminently coachable, but the primary schools already knew that, and did their own coaching. Most parents could make a lot of difference themselves, if only they would.
    In the second case, the analogy needs a bit more meat – because the difference wasn’t in the formal coaching, not really:
    “What if the poorer one was say, half a second slower?” Then it depends on whether he can shake off the dead weight of his home environment, the pastimes and distractions and expectations of his neighbourhood. If he can, he will be making up the lost ground all of his life. If he can’t, then he will damage the rest of the squad and embarrass his sponsor.
    And in case I didn’t make myself clear before, I think it is more likely that the Shankill ruined the primary schools than that the primary schools ruined the Shankill. That would have been quite some coincidence…
    Kensei: …lost utility
    Well, yes – hence my comment: “There is plenty of untapped, blighted, wasted talent in the city estates”. But low family income isn’t the cause, removing selection isn’t the fix.

  • Reader

    Gonzo: postcode lottery
    Health boards have large catchment areas, which contain every economic class of people. The different service provisions are effectively a lottery, because people hardly ever move to be with the right health board. Hence “postcode lottery”
    Schools are different, they have small catchment areas. Where schools are obliged to select entirely on the basis of the child’s home address, then people certainly will move house to be in reach of the right school. If they can afford it. That’s “postcode selection”. It’s about the most inequitable method of selection you could possibly devise for publicly provided education.

  • Leibniz

    Enough with the arithmetic already. A quick check with MY method of infinitesmals (that fellow Newton is both a liar and a thief) demonstrates quite derivatively that both Adams and the elder Paisley are both Number 2s. The younger Paisley is a wee Number 2.

  • Well said, Leibniz.

  • Albert

    There is nothing Special about either of them. In General, I would say that, Relatively, they are both sides of the same Pfennig.
    I wouldn’t give either of them the Time or the Space.

  • Albert

    There is nothing Special about either of them.

    Except for the fact that they have delusions of grandeur that mean that thousands have to die in order that they advance or save us for some nonsensical goal.

  • G. Boole

    True.

  • J.Von Neumann

    I would suggest that this difference in opinion between Messrs O’Connell and Erasmus could be settled with a bit of numerical analysis. I would strongly recommend using a computer.

  • willis

    “How will a comprehensive secondary system fix the damage done in a comprehensive primary system?”

    Brilliant question.

    The only problem is that the damage is not done in the Primary system. It may be insufficient to correct the damage.

    Harry and Dave have a point, people do choose to live in a certain way. I still look forward to seeing how a 10 year old on the Shankill is given the choice of training as a doctor.

  • J Von Neuman

    The only problem is that the word “computer” actually also comes out at 666 on my numeric alphabet that defames Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley.

  • kensei

    If it’s about external tuition, how many hours a week can realistically be added to 30 hours a week already – or is the extra tuition meant to add super value because of extra motivation and focus? (That’s starting to go round the circle again, isn’t it?) The existing 11+ was eminently coachable, but the primary schools already knew that, and did their own coaching. Most parents could make a lot of difference themselves, if only they would.

    Small differences get amplified, so you may only get an extra couple of hours a week extra tuition, but the advantage is compounded. If you make your system a race, then this is what you are susceptible to.

    Education and life chances isn’t a race. Very often it doesn’t matter that you are the smartest, or the most creative or the most driven. What matters is if you are smart, innovative or driven enough.

    In the second case, the analogy needs a bit more meat – because the difference wasn’t in the formal coaching, not really:

    I disagree. And I should know, because it was my whole entire point.

    In any case, you can never correct for pushy parenting. Not totally. But to suggest that somehow we are totally powerless in the face of it, or there is nothing we can do to give people some of the chances that pushy parents have, or some of the connections that rich parents have is just utterly false. We can, and we can benefit everyone by doing it.

    It does change the questions we should asking though. But I can’t see how for the life me the answer would come out at the 11+, even with that.

    I should add that many parents take a different approach to raising kids. They give them more independence and freedom to choose their own path, rather than railroad them into being a doctor. There is nothing inherently wrong with it, and in some situations it could an advantage. Just not when your in a big race for limited educational positions.

    “What if the poorer one was say, half a second slower?” Then it depends on whether he can shake off the dead weight of his home environment, the pastimes and distractions and expectations of his neighbourhood. If he can, he will be making up the lost ground all of his life. If he can’t, then he will damage the rest of the squad and embarrass his sponsor.

    That’s the thing though, the 11+ doesn’t take account of any of that. There is a number and that is it.

    And in case I didn’t make myself clear before, I think it is more likely that the Shankill ruined the primary schools than that the primary schools ruined the Shankill. That would have been quite some coincidence…

    There is a certain elitism and nastiness about that comment that I dislike. There is a certain vicious circle going on here. The Shankill primary schools don’t have the resources to attract the best teachers. It is a challenging place to teach, and would be even if every child was perfectly behaved, partly due to the poverty found there.

    Well, yes – hence my comment: “There is plenty of untapped, blighted, wasted talent in the city estates”. But low family income isn’t the cause, removing selection isn’t the fix.

    Except low family income does pay a significant role. Taking it from the Left for a second: a parent underwater may find it hard to give a child as much time and attention as someone better off. They might not be able to afford music lessons or extra tuition or school trips. They might not have the same network of support as higher income families. From the Right, perhaps people are on the dole and don’t develop a work ethic. “Low income” hides a lot of things, and dealing with it would have a lot of positive effects.

    As for selection, the only people making a silver bullet argument are those who want to keep it. There is big evidence that it is failing lower income families. It needs to be a part of a package of solutions, not just on its own.

  • Erasmus

    Just a wee bit curious, expert numerologist; Is there any word that doesn’t come out as 666 on your snake oil (/strike> machine?

  • Reader

    kensei: The Shankill primary schools don’t have the resources to attract the best teachers. It is a challenging place to teach, and would be even if every child was perfectly behaved, partly due to the poverty found there.
    They have more resources than most primary schools, since there is extra money based on the proportion of pupils on free school meals.
    And are you using ‘poverty’ as a euphemism? Because,to me it just means ‘lack of money’.
    kensei: a parent underwater may find it hard to give a child as much time and attention as someone better off.
    Working long hours overtime? That isn’t just the working poor, you know. But then consider the extreme (and more common) case of unemployed parents; tons of time available for the children.

  • Erasmus

    Nothing snake oil-ish about my machine. It is the simple calculator that can tell no lies.

    But New York comes at 666 too which conveniently helped to fulfil a prophecy in 2001.

    Click on my name and then on Revelation to find out the details.

  • John Nash

    John,
    Welcome to my world of Disequilibrium. I can well imagine your world.

    (Message approved by the Institute Director)

  • John Nash

    I hope I also win the Nobel Prize for whatever they give to the humble man who presided over the saving of the world by choosing the correct paradigm to explain the reason why Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley’s names come out at 666 in.

  • kensei

    Reader

    They have more resources than most primary schools, since there is extra money based on the proportion of pupils on free school meals.And are you using ‘poverty’ as a euphemism? Because,to me it just means ‘lack of money’.

    No, I’m using poverty as a lack of money. Not having money has all sorts of knock effects.

    Working long hours overtime? That isn’t just the working poor, you know. But then consider the extreme (and more common) case of unemployed parents; tons of time available for the children.

    Don’t selectively quote me like that. It is both dishonest and highly rude. I covered from both ends why poverty can be debilitating. And while there is more than the working poor, there still is the working poor. Even assuming the tired old distinctions between deserving and undeserving poor (please note: the children don’t have much say in it), you are using the one set of people to make a against against another.

    If you are not going to make a honest case, don’t bother.

  • % of pupils attending Grammar Schools in Belfast District Council area: 53.73%

    % of pupils attending Grammar Schools in rest of Northern Ireland: 39.11%

    That’s from DENI figures 2008. That there is a ‘postcode lottery’ should be fairly obvious from that. Also, Gerry Adams’s parliamentary constituency has the highest proportion of children with free school meals entitlement in NI.

  • willis

    Hugh

    Can you flesh that quote out a bit? I think it just means that Belfast Grammar schools draw in pupils from other neighbouring council areas.

  • Willis, I’m not altogether familiar with the location of schools within Belfast City Council.

    It’s not a quote, but a calculation based on the figures. I lifted and collated the figures and stuck them in a pivot table. I think there’s a fairly consistent pattern:

    % of children attending grammar schools by parliamentary constituency:

    Belfast East: 67.68%
    Belfast North: 60.19%
    Belfast South: 77.03%
    Belfast West: 24.11%

    Total Belfast constituencies: 51.83%
    Total outside Belfast constituencies: 39.22%

    There is a rural/urban split too: 16% of pupils attend GS in rural areas by comparison with 47% of pupils in urban areas.

    If there is a particular comparison you would like to see, let me know and I’ll be happy to oblige.

  • Reader

    Kensei: Don’t selectively quote me like that. It is both dishonest and highly rude. I covered from both ends why poverty can be debilitating.
    I’m trying to work out why you think poverty (‘lack of money’) damages children’s educational prospects. But all I ever see is correlations. And I *expected* to see correlations.
    If my savings got wiped out, would my children have to change school? No. Did they get extra tuition for the 11+? No.

  • willis

    Thanks Hugh. Those are even more amazing figures!

  • kensei

    Reader

    ?I’m trying to work out why you think poverty (’lack of money’) damages children’s educational prospects. But all I ever see is correlations. And I *expected* to see correlations.

    Both ice cream sales and t-shirt sales go up during the summer. The reason they go up is more sunshine.

    There are lots of factors behind why poorer children have disadvanatges that richer kids don’t. The “sunshine” is this case is poverty. I have already given several examples.