Ruane’s proposals are Smith’s without the ‘required work’…

Interesting aside from Brendan Harron of the INTO teachers’ union towards the end of his Stormont Live interview, in which he notes there is nothing new in Catriona Ruane’s ‘heavily consulted’ proposals. In fact they are precisely the same ‘heavily consulted’ proposals brought forward by the Direct Rule Minister Angela Smith in 2006:

Future transfer arrangements will be on the basis of informed parental choice. Parents will have a broader assessment of their child’s needs using the Pupil Profile and advice from schools. The new arrangements are about parents choosing schools not schools choosing pupils. They will give parents the right and responsibility to choose the school most appropriate to their child’s needs.

So what on earth were the all private consultations of the last year all about, other than the Minister biding her time (much of it at arms length from her own offices) waiting to fulfil a timetable first set by Jane Kennedy on 26th January 2004..?

And if you peel the onion even further back you realise that much of the intellectual spadework was completed in the Costello report from which Kennedy drew her timetable, you can see that although the current Minister has kept to the timetable for abolition, few if any of the parallel developments suggested by Costello have been completed:

“The Group’s recommendations provide an agenda for the development and enhancement of provision over the next few years, which will be reinforced by the parallel developments on the implementation of the revised curriculum and the introduction of the Pupil Profile. The Group has considered carefully the timetable for these various developments and has concluded that Autumn 2008 should be the final date for the use of the Transfer Test.”

What none of these consultations took account of was that when the democratic deficit was filled, none of the various iterations would stand the least chance of being backed by law in the power sharing Executive…

Adds: realist below pulls me up for not mentioning the free school meals package that is attached to Ms Ruane’s proposals…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty