Back to school day

It’s back to school day for kids all over NI.

Our MLAs don’t return until next week and when they do, they will have to face the sad reality that they have left tens of thousands of children in educational limbo. Selection has been effectively privatised and many fear chaos this winter and the true implications of a deregulated system hits home to parents. Teachers are annoyed and the education minister, Caitriona Ruane, is sticking to her ideological guns, apparently putting party policy ahead of progress and agreement.

There have been plenty of good suggestions about how to break the deadlock. The SDLP for example proposed an educator led commission and the temporary reintroduction of a state exam.

Outside politics many have tried to start an informed and constructive debate on the best way forward. Professor Tony Gallagher writing some time ago on the Education for All blog weighed up the pros and cons of transfer at 14. Others have also written extensively about best international practice.
Truth is politics is failing children here. Policing was ultimately solved when the politics was taken out of the debate. Surely it is the time to put in place a process which allows mature, evidence based discussion about the way forward.