I have blogged often about education on O’Conall Street. Much of it is borne out of parental anxiety about the chaos which will unfold when the implications of Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane’s, decision to deregulate our education system become evident. Like talk about flags, this is an issue which seems to raise temperatures immediately and polarise opinion. Last year I set up a facebook group calling for Minister Ruane to resign and hand the job to someone capable of finding a solution – it has over 1000 members, mainly parents of primary school children.
The DUP and SF seem unable to square their differences but a solution must be found if we are to avoid a race to the bottom. Some months ago it struck me that a if politicians could agree on a series of principles then there could be grounds on which to shape a constructive debate about reform education for the betterment of all. These might include:
– Agreement that 14 is a better age at which to exercise pupil and parental choice about possible transfer for the final four years of education;
– Agreement to guarantee parents and pupils access faith based education;
– Agreement that an early intervention strategy should be developed to support children from deprived socio economic backgrounds during primary and early second level education;
– Agreement to consider and draw on international best practice when developing these proposals;
– Agreement that the system must be based on a commitment to social equity and educational excellence at every level;
– Agreement that the change programme would be rolled out over at least a five year period, allowing up to ten years for any institutional realignments to take place;
– Agreement that an interim regulated system should be introduced immediately
Politics is failing children in this region and somedays I wonder if anyone in power cares.