All Londonderry grammar schools to use academic selection

With the Northern Ireland Education Minister, apparently, still manning the trench, the BBC reports on the latest grammar school to confirm its use of academic selection next year.

All Londonderry’s grammar schools are to set entrance tests in 2010, it has been confirmed. The Board of Governors at St Columb’s College said that “in the current circumstances, it would be prudent to use testing” to select pupils. The school said it will conduct tests in Maths and English. The other grammar schools in the city – Lumen Christi, Thornhill, and Foyle and Londonderry – have already said they will apply academic selection.

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  • padraic

    We were never really going to have four fantastic schools turning into Brandywell High, Shantallow Comp. etc. without a fight were we? Ruane continues to embarass herself. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • joeCanuck

    Padraic,
    I think most Teachers thought the system was broke, or, at least, untenable.
    Unfortunately Ruane entered the field with no intention of creating a consensus on the future. She was determined it would be her way only which is why it is such a mess now.
    I think we’ll have to wait for a change of Minister, which will happen eventually, before any serious attempt at compromise can be carried forward.
    As often is the case in educational disputes the kids get the short stick.

  • padraic

    [i]I think most Teachers thought the system was broke, or, at least, untenable.[/i]

    How so Joe? I don’t think grammar school teachers would tell you that – they certainly wouldn’t at Lumen Christi anyways! The 11+ does not unfairly discriminate between children – academic selection is the fairest way to determine which secondary school children should go to. Non-grammar schools in the north are truly exceptional in terms of standards and teaching excellence compared with schools which have similar status in England, Wales etc. and even, in my opinion, in comparison to their counterparts in the south.

    Those who accuse the system of promoting ‘inequality’ and who attack it on other similar grounds are simply looking to identify a scapegoat for the chronic social deprivation that exists in some, predominately urban, areas in the six counties. Nevertheless, the 11+ represents by far the best opportunity for children – regardless of their social background – to excel and fulfil their potential.

  • joeCanuck

    Padraic,
    I don’t think the 11+ discriminates either. I took it and passed it as did all of my numerous siblings.
    But it did put an awful lot of pressure on even me, who was consistently top boy in my class. I didn’t like that one bit.. My personal beef with the selection (and we do need to make choices) is that it is done at too early an age. At 14, say, the young folks will have a much better idea of their strengths and in what direction they want to initially direct their careers.

  • padraic

    Good point, and you’re completely correct when you say that it’s the children who are being sold short at the minute in the midst of this complete shambles. 14 might be a better age – obviously an expert in education would be much better qualified to judge – but it would certainly open up the opportunity for more of an emphasis of kids learning ‘real’ skills (i.e. in engineering, construction etc.) than some of the tripe currently on offer (media studies, beauty therapy etc). While I still firmly believe in academic selection, there needs to be more of an emphasis on young people learning real skills than whether or not they can pass a GCSE R.E. or English Literature exam.

  • joeCanuck

    I’m happy to say that I am a retired engineer and I had a wonderful exciting career. I highly recommend it.

  • Harry Flashman

    Good move, as I wrote earlier the Catholic Grammar schools are the jewel in the crown of Northern Nationalist society, they have produced some of the finest minds in Ireland and the UK, to have sacrificed them on the altar of a clapped out 1950’s British socialist agenda that even English people are heartily sick of would have been an act of truly stupendous folly and ingratitude.

  • joeCanuck

    But what do you think of selecting at 11, Harry?
    At 14 we both would still have gone to St.Columbs.
    Meanwhile we would have had a chance to do things like Shop. A great chance to develop skills for future hobbies. It took me years to self learn techniques I could use for woodworking pleasure.

  • Harry Flashman

    To be honest Joe, I simply don’t know what the best age for selection is but I do know what works and the Catholic Grammar schools of Northern Ireland worked, they worked big time, two Nobel Prize winners from one wee school in Derry alone tells you somebody was doing something right, and by the way the Catholic secondary schools of Derry, St Mary’s and St Cecilia’s, are damned impressive outfits too; they put any dreary comprehensive in England to shame.

    However if they need to fine tune the procedure I can accept that, but to kill the Golden Goose to satisfy some atavistic socialist nonsense would be a crime that would be unforgivable.

  • joeCanuck

    two Nobel Prize winners from one wee school in Derry

    Yes indeeed, Harry. I take a lot of pride in that. Also that one of them taught me for a year, and he made our French class quite exciting.

  • willis

    And with a bit of luck Brian Friel will give you a hat trick.