McCann: Sinn Fein never had a plan to make educational reform work…

Interesting admission from Jennifer McCann of Sinn Fein at a public meeting at St Dominics on the Falls last night: “I would concede that when you take something away you should have something in its place. I concede that.” Even more interesting that she fingers Martin McGuinness as the villain of the piece for announcing his intention to abolish the 11+ before having something in its place. It’s a fair criticism of course, but it sidesteps poor Caitriona, whose party had from the 8th October 2002 (just as Stormont was collapsing) until the resumption of play in May 2007 to come up with a viable plan to make it happen. Which suggests Ms McCann’s statement is a tacit admission that the objective never had a pup’s chance of ever working!!!

  • Coopenhagen

    In other news, the world has been found to be round.

  • spideomatic

    ‘Even more interesting that she fingers Martin McGuinness’

    Shurely shome mishtake? 🙂

  • Sean

    Wouldn’t have anything to do with unionists artificially collapsing storomont because of false allegations of spying made up by british intaligence would it?

  • Michele Filippi

    which is why I and hopefully many others will be at Stormont Gates this Sat. 5 Dec to support the hand-over of the Belfast Telegraph’s Sort It Now campaign

  • Mick Fealty

    Would it Sean?

  • Neil

    The constant attempts to shift any and all blame from Ruane is getting tiresome. Call a spade a spade ffs., consensus was required, it was her job to try to build it. Instead she took the ‘if you don’t agree with me then fuck off’ approach, like a petunlant child.

    She’s made a shambles of things by pressing on with her own plans without trying to garner any support outside her own party, which is by and large how things are done here. Tis a joke. Now for SF to admit fallibility and accept she’s a poor excuse for an education minister and replace her.

  • igor

    That’s not fair on poor Catriona. She was busy bird watching in Colombia. That will undoubtedly give her an inside track on the old Geography Lessons

  • Sean

    Well MIck since wee marty cancelled the 11+ on a given date in the last Storomont ruckus and I am assuming maybe they were going to come up with a soplution in the interum until un onionists threw the rattle out of the pram. I think it might be a mitigating factor

    The onionists are just mad now because she won’t back down and has the support of the leadership

    * sigh why won’t those fenians play croppie lay down tike good little taigs *

  • Democratic

    “I am assuming maybe they were going to come up with a soplution in the interum until un onionists threw the rattle out of the pram. I think it might be a mitigating factor”
    So are you are agreeing that they scrapped it without any idea of what they were going to replace it with and were simply content to think about this in the “interim” period? This line of thinking wouldn’t put them in a good light surely. Also surely the minds would have been employed to that task are the same minds that have been unable to come up with anything in the last 2 years so what makes you think the same people would have had any more success back then?
    Nah Sean, you can’t pin this debacle on the Unionists with that weak logic…..

  • the future’s bright, the future’s orange

    any nationalists out there in favour of selection (11 or 14)? If so, how is your voice heard?

  • Sam Thompson

    if she has the support of the leadership, why don’t they trust her to handle most tv/radio interviews on education, sending out John O’Dowd to try put her point across for her?

  • Reader

    the future’s bright : any nationalists out there in favour of selection (11 or 14)? If so, how is your voice heard?
    Through school governors and head teachers, I expect. Mis-management may be a potent electoral issue next time round, but simply pointing in the wrong direction and going nowhere won’t hurt SDLP at all, and won’t hurt SF very much.

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    No way should such an important decision on a childs future education be made at 11.

    14 certainly has a lot more merit

  • Sean

    Democratic

    Back then SF could have imposed a solution, now it takes concensus and unionists and SF see the solution from opposite spectrums

  • Why should the shinner compromise on this, when they are well aware if they do it will leave thousands of working class youngsters, both Protestant and Catholic, with a second class education. But hey, just as long as you nice middle class people can ring fence little Billys education, fuck the rest ah, you like to keep protestant workers kids ignorant, so if the need arises they can act as your muscle when the taigs get uppity.

    Why cannot those who wish to keep selective education make the compromises, why is it always the shinners who have to bend the knee. When the minister approached those who wish to keep selective education she was basically told,

    ‘if you don’t agree with us then fuck off’

    You people think your shit does not stink, those of us who have been down wind of you now differently.

  • DC

    Sinn Fein in playing politics with your kid’s education shocker (but didn’t the unionists et al get cross)!

  • Panic, These ones like it up em.

    Reply to Mickall

    Blunt and to the point but hard to disagree with at the same time.

  • Sean

    Remember the unionist love affair with the status quo? Well the staus quo was that the 11+ was going to end, they got what they wanted things exactly like they were before

  • willis

    Hi Michele Filippi

    Hope I got your name right. As far as I know you are not a TV personality, so why has the Bele Tele got you fronting up their campaign, apart from being a mum obv.

  • Fran

    Mick Hall, because they have compromised on everything else. It is expected that they will do the same on this. I hope she holds but doubt if she will. The leadership is preparing the way for a reverse move. It is funny how some still push the discredited line that there was no spying. Most people know there was a bitgoing on. The same thing was said about the Northern Bank but who believes the Ra didn’t do it. Great job all the same

  • willis

    MickHall

    “But hey, just as long as you nice middle class people can ring fence little Billys education”

    I fear that it is the nice middle class people who want to ring fence Liam’s education that are more a problem to Sinn Fein.

  • Big Bopper

    Its a pity SF don’t apply selection by ability to their Ministers. Selecting a deluded windbag just because she comes from another state is 1 thing.
    Attempting to cover up her lack of ability by putting fingers in ears is another futile gesture.

    mickhall, Haven’t you heard? the Cold War is over, the good guys won. ‘The Lives of Others’ is a good film, watch it from behind your Che Guevara pillow.

  • willis

    Now Now Big Bopper

    SF does not have a monopoly on deluded windbags with an interest in education.

  • DC

    “Mick Hall, because they have compromised on everything else. It is expected that they will do the same on this. I hope she holds but doubt if she will.”

    I doubt she will too, why else apologise to and at St Dominics for the sorry state education is in if SF weren’t preparing the ground for compromise.

    What was the alternative, universalism and postcode lottery?

    SF does not have a monopoly on deluded windbags with an interest in education.

    Yes, but at least Willie McCrea can sing.

  • Reader

    Mickhall: Why should the shinner compromise on this…
    Because half a loaf is better than no bread?
    Because a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?
    Because – and this is the lesson of the GFA and the catch 22 of power sharing – partial success is better than complete failure. And, in case you hadn’t noticed, SF are in the position, right now, of having made things worse.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Mick Hall
    If she was in Russia she would be called Katriana Pissoff because she has pissed off everybody.
    Here in Larne the proposal which she endorsed,is,to close the local Catholic college, which does not select,and ship the pupils 20 miles to one that currently does,all be it with an ever decreasing admittence criteria in order to maintain it’s capitation funding.This has led to numbers reducing at the local Catholic college,that and continual uncertainty created by the CCMS who favour this relocation.
    What this in effect means is that children are being forced to attend a school 20 miles away- children – many of whom would be happier with a basic academic education and supplemented with a more vocational education are being treated as cannon fodder – so that the kids who want 29/33 subjects available – can get them.
    These (in the main – less well off children -)are being used as “pound tokens”to ensure there are enough teachers for the rich kids.

  • PACE Parent

    Where is the compromise possible on the principle of academic selection? Age is thrown in simply to help move the goalposts towards absolute comprehensivisation.
    If the two ESA Bills come into law the Education & Skills Authority will “have a monopoly on deluded windbags with an interest in education.”
    Making Incas assessments for primary school pupils mandatory when it was later admitted that the CEM at Durham University product didn’t work is a recent example. CCEA recommended to the DENI, on foot of an “independent evaluation” that they sign a contract for this flawed product. Guess who was the Chief Executive of CCEA at the time? That’s right Gavin Boyd, the Chief Executive of the ESA. How convenient!
    Just when will the tough guy all party politicians on the Education Committee hold Mr Boyd to account. After all it was on his watch that the 11-plus was abandoned. CCEA failed to prepare for a replacement.

  • PACE Parent

    Danny O’Connor
    Does the STOP group in Larne not know the Catholic Church’s position on academic selection?
    Is the STOP position in favour of academic selection at 11? Please do explain to Slugger readers what the 24/27 subject number figure was determined on. Help us out with a list of subjects in the academic/general category and in the vocational/applied category. I suggest you take up your concerns over Local Area Planning with Bishop Donal McKeown. Good Luck!

  • willis

    PACE

    Don’t be like Catriona. Try and make a few friends.

  • PACE Parent

    PACE has plenty of friends Willis. Just count the number of parents who entered their children for the unregulated 11-plus transfer tests in the face of opposition from people like you. PACE believe in plurality and in parental choice in education. Comparisons with Caitriona Ruane and her educationalists are unhelpful. With friends in that court who needs enemies?

  • PACE Parent

    Where are the answers to #2 and #3? Willis?

  • Democratic

    Sean:
    “Back then SF could have imposed a solution, now it takes concensus and unionists and SF see the solution from opposite spectrums”

    I’m sorry but considering their recent proposals the idea of Sinn Fein “imposing” a solution over Unionists heads does not thrill…..besides which imposing a “solution” was exactly what they tried to do recently…..and look what happened there – I would have thought the same action back then would have led to precisely the same impass we are at today – in fact I would bet on it.

  • “Where is the compromise possible on the principle of academic selection?”

    Pace parent,
    The truth at last well done, I agree there’re can be no compromise when it comes to children’s education as the future lays within it.

    Selective education blights peoples lives, the facts speak for themselves

    Absolute comprehensivisation is the only civilised way forward and more to the point it works far better that the out dated system of selection, which is designed to ring fence middle class children’s education. Thus it ‘mainly’ benefits one class and one class alone. It is worse than that it works to the detriment of the majority of working class children, both Catholic and Protestant who have every right to a decent and if they wish, a fair shot at gaining a university education.

    (Morons like John Adair do not just fall from the sky, they are a product of their environment and second class education.)

    What I despise most about many unionists is they claim loudly they wish to remain part of the UK, yet when doing so they demand the right to retain part of the outdated setup which led to three decades of bloody confrontation.

    The rest of the UK did away with selective education decades ago, catch yourselves on, at least move into the latter part of the 20th century.

    So lets have no more talk from Mr Fealty about the Shinner education ministers failure to compromise, for as ‘pace parent’ has made clear, those who demand selective education remains, what nothing less than total victory.

    If I have a criticism of the shinner’s it is they are willing to compromise far to much.

    The unionist political leadership must be the only group in history to have been offered devolution, yet refuse to pick it up because they fear it might also bring benefits to their neighbours. What a cowardly and bigoted bunch they appear to be.

  • willis

    PACE

    I know i’m being sucked in……

    “Just count the number of parents who entered their children for the unregulated 11-plus transfer tests in the face of opposition from people like you.”

    Point me to where I opposed parents entering their children for the new exams.

  • willis

    Mickhall

    The problem is that SF only have the support of 28% ish of the electorate.

  • ulsterfan

    Too much fuss about Transfer procedure.
    An election will take place shortly and a Unionist party will take over the education portfolio.
    A lot of the problems created by the present Minister can be fixed.
    The new Minister can do almost anything except re introduce the 11 plus in its old format.
    Financial support can be given to the Grammar schools who decide to follow some form of academic selection.
    The Dept will also give cover to various Boards of Governors.
    It will be mind blowing if the Shinners take on this responsibility again especially as to date they have made laughing stocks of themselves and seem unable to listen to or reach compromise with their opponents.

  • willis

    Sean

    I think he is suggesting that SF may redirect their energies elsewhere and let CR twist in the wind.

  • Reader

    Mickhall: Absolute comprehensivisation is the only civilised way forward and more to the point it works far better that the out dated system of selection…
    How is comprehensive secondary education meant to fix a problem that has remained utterly untouched by comprehensive primary education?

  • barnshee

    The 11+ was wholly fair in that all could sit it

    It favoured those:-

    1 With supportive parents who coached/paid for coaching
    2 Children who sat quietly paid attention and co-operated.
    3 Children who could think clearly work accurately and write legibly under time contraints/pressure

    These advantages did not all arise exclusively in the “middle classes”

    Where would you draw the line on advantage?
    Should the maths teacher who coaches his son for GCSE or A level maths be prevented from doing so?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    I’m not sure how you think the problem of rich people getting better education for their kids should be fixed. By having a comprehensive style system, you end up with a postcode lottery, which we don’t have with selection.

    You can just as easily defend selection by saying that it gives poorer kids an opportunity to go to a school which would otherwise be open only to fee payers. I used to travel to Birmingham quite a lot for work purposes and most of the people I met there told me that they’d much rather have selection.

  • willis

    From the self appointed saviours of our education system.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/post-primary-selection/transfer-campaign-public-opinion-seems-to-be-causing-a-shift-within–sinn-fein-14587737.html

    “The first step should be to look again at the proposal put forward by educationalists from a range of school types last year which proposed moving academic selection to being an option at age 14.

    If school leaders on the ground with very different opinions on selection can come to an agreement, why can’t our politicians?”

  • “The 11+ was wholly fair in that all could sit it.”

    As far as England was concerned, this is totally untrue, it simply did not work that way and for a host of reasons, many based on middle class prejudices against working class children.

    I could give you a list as long as my arm why some pupils where not put in to take this exam. They vary from apathetic parents, or those who due to their own lack of education felt an education was not for the likes of them and their kids (This lack of ambition is still a major problem within some working class communities)

    To the ‘ever so helpful’ headmaster who refused to put forward a bright pupil because they simply would not fit in at the local grammar, or so the creep claimed. I also know of parents who refused to allow their child to sit the 11+ because they could not afford the uniform, bus fares etc and no one stepped forward to give them advice or a helping hand.

    The 11 plus had an opt-in process as almost all self selecting systems do, and this is why it is the worst of the educational options available.

    Comrade Stalin

    You are far to bright a fellow to run with the Clapham omnibus twaddle. Soon after 9/11 I used to travel on a certain Birmingham bus route on which I over-head people on the bus saying they thought the US got what it deserved when Bin Laden ordered the attack on the Twin Towers.

    They were wrong then and wrong today, much like the folk you mention.

    By the way selection does not give working class children a better shot at life’s chances, what it may do on the odd occasion is give an individual working class child a better education, thus for me selection at the age of 11 is indefensible.

    The ‘fact’ is comprehensive education gives a wider cross section of children a superior education compared with selection. This is undeniable, yes a tiny minority of kids from a working class background benefited from going to a grammar, but they were a minority at a time when working class people made up a majority of the population.

    Just for one minute imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, and only a tiny minority of middle class children were getting a half decent education due to the hurdles placed in their way by the State.

    There would be outrage and so there was, as people understood selection was immoral and bad for the country as a whole. The funny thing is this is a debate which was down and dusted in the rest of the UK decades ago.

    Today the real problem the rest of the UK has education wise is the continued subsidy by tax payers of public[private] schools. These Schools are clearly run as businesses, yet they leach off the rest of us by continuing to claim charity status.

  • willis

    I’m sure there is a fine piece of research to be done as to the relative performance of different education systems to the ‘credit-crunch’.

    The behaviour of British bankers would be impossible without the English class-based education system giving justification for their arrogance.

    England cannot be said to have a comprehensive system when so many private schools continue to exist, thrive even.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick,

    I could give you a list as long as my arm why some pupils where not put in to take this exam. They vary from apathetic parents, or those who due to their own lack of education felt an education was not for the likes of them and their kids (This lack of ambition is still a major problem within some working class communities)

    Agreed indeed, this is a serious problem (and I think it’s getting worse). But it’s got nothing to do with the issue of selection.

    To the ‘ever so helpful’ headmaster who refused to put forward a bright pupil because they simply would not fit in at the local grammar, or so the creep claimed.

    I doubt this happened very often. There were plenty of working class kids in St Malachy’s when I was there, including me. Lots of middle class kids too.

    I also know of parents who refused to allow their child to sit the 11+ because they could not afford the uniform, bus fares etc and no one stepped forward to give them advice or a helping hand.

    Who’s doing the omnibus twaddle now ?

    I don’t know how it is or was elsewhere in the UK but here, all the schools have a uniform, including the secondary schools, and especially in recent years they all enforce their uniform policy, so you can’t escape this by not doing the 11+. When I was at school, bus passes were not means tested and were issued to anyone living over three miles away. Likewise with school meal support.

    The 11 plus had an opt-in process as almost all self selecting systems do, and this is why it is the worst of the educational options available.

    I am on the fence when it comes to the 11+. I’m waiting for someone to persuade me that it’s bad. All the arguments that you’ve used are either highly anecdotal, irrelevant, or simply false.

    Today the real problem the rest of the UK has education wise is the continued subsidy by tax payers of public[private] schools. These Schools are clearly run as businesses, yet they leach off the rest of us by continuing to claim charity status.

    I agree, these schools should not be tax exempt. It would be interesting, though, to reflect on the fact that there are very few, if any, public schools in Northern Ireland. Could that be anything to do with the selection system ?

  • Unionist

    Can anyone point out please which region of the UK education system has routinely out shone all the rest for several years? Was it really the English comprehensives?

  • Reader

    Mickhall: Today the real problem the rest of the UK has education wise is the continued subsidy by tax payers of public[private] schools. These Schools are clearly run as businesses, yet they leach off the rest of us by continuing to claim charity status.
    Children who go to public schools save the state the equivalent cost of their education in the state sector. Charity status is nowhere near to compensating for that, and in any case comes with strings attached.
    However, if voucher proposals are ever accepted then charitable status should be removed.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Unionist on Dec
    This place usually comes out top in the amount of A levels & gcse however have you looked at the other end of the scale to see how many kids here leave school with none.
    While you’re at it see how many kids leave school here with severe literacy and numeracy problems.
    Should we not seek to give all kids the best education we can.
    I know parents who payed for private tuition for their kids to be schooled in 11+ tests.Many cannot afford this.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Reader:

    Children who go to public schools save the state the equivalent cost of their education in the state sector. Charity status is nowhere near to compensating for that, and in any case comes with strings attached.

    Sorry, but I do not accept this argument at all. Charities are supposed to do something for the general good of the community. They’re not supposed to allow private organizations which cater exclusively for rich people to avoid some tax.

    Should private hospitals be tax exempt ? Private transport companies ? Where do you stop ?

  • Reader

    Comrade Stalin: Charities are supposed to do something for the general good of the community. They’re not supposed to allow private organizations which cater exclusively for rich people to avoid some tax.
    I said: “strings attached”

  • slug

    There are compromises on academic selection, e.g. not having a test but allowing schools to see academic profiles when they select. As in Finland for example.

  • I am on the fence when it comes to the 11+. I’m waiting for someone to persuade me that it’s bad. All the arguments that you’ve used are either highly anecdotal, irrelevant, or simply false.

    Comrade Stalin,

    I think you are being a bit harsh, you make a big claim here yet by not naming the things you believe I told lies about, those which you claim are irrelevant or are highly anecdotal, it makes it impossible for me to challenge your accusations.

    When I was writing about selection in England, it was admittedly long ago, back then school uniforms due to cost were beyond the reach of the budget of members of my own family, I recognise this has changed somewhat since. I can assure you none of what I mentioned was anecdotal, but due to personal or family experience and for us it was certainly not irrelevant.

    I agree times have changed but not as much as some seem to believe and in the case of education hardly at all in the North.

    If you seriously believe a headmaster did not and would not today behave in the despicable way I mentioned, then all I can say is lucky you, as you have obviously never attended a sink school. In the school I went to, 9 children in my year were put forward to take the 11+, 9 kids out of 47.

    I notice you failed to deal with my point about the 11+ being an opt-in system of selection, which to my mind is highly relevant.

    Having said this I do not doubt you and many others here believe as passionately as I in a first class education for all our kids. I can assure you I am far from dogmatic on education, I do not give a fig about how we get there, I just wish to see us arrive.

    Nevertheless, I cannot but help thinking as the system of selection has been in place for years in the North it has clearly failed a majority of working class children, thankfully not all, but in some areas a majority. Hence it is time for change.

    All the best

    PS. By the way, I found the work of this teacher and the kids in his charge an inspiration.

    http://www.organizedrage.com/2009/12/why-our-school-is-campaigning-against.html

  • Comrade Stalin

    I think you are being a bit harsh, you make a big claim here yet by not naming the things you believe I told lies about,

    OK, I’ll spell it out for you.

    – the stuff about the headmaster not putting forward a child is highly anecdotal and I doubt it happens often here, if at all. If it did, the parents would have grounds for legal action. When I was in primary school, the majority of parents put their kids through the test. I know several people who failed the test and went on to do well in their careers. One in particular I know has a doctorate in the field of mechanical engineering. That’s anecdotal I accept, but that’s just in my primary school class. I’m sure it must be repeated elsewhere.

    Intuitively, you would think it must suck to be a kid who has failed a test at 11. You would imagine that a kid would see this as a long term setback. The fact that we have relatively high levels of educational attainment, and a good reputation as a workforce in general/broad terms, suggests that it isn’t the setback that people think.

    – the part about poor people not wanting their kids to progress through the education system is irrelevant to selection. It’s a very serious problem and is getting worse. There’s a ghetto mentality developing in many situations I’m aware of. The idea that if you try to better yourself you’re abandoning your own people.

    – the part about poor people not wanting their child to go to a grammar school due to uniform costs doesn’t apply either, as secondary schools (here at least) all have a uniform as well. And if there’s a problem, I’d fix it with the benefits system, or by compelling the schools to provide means-tested grants to poorer pupils.

    Taking away selection doesn’t get you away from having badly performing schools with low levels of attainment in sink estates. But you do take away the opportunity for some of those kids to get out of there.

    I’m not that well versed in the debate, so I don’t understand your point about the 11+ being opt-in. If you mean that it’s voluntary, well, in my class I think about 25 out of 30 did it, so most people opted their kids in. And look at all those parents who put their kids through the unregulated tests.

    I am not dogmatic about selection either, I just haven’t been given a good reason why it’s bad. The reasons I’ve been given either don’t seem relevant, or could be addressed in other ways rather than fundamentally changing the setup. I’m concerned that some of the debate here is motivated less by a concern for education and more by a desire to stick one up to the rich folks.

  • willis

    “Taking away selection doesn’t get you away from having badly performing schools with low levels of attainment in sink estates. But you do take away the opportunity for some of those kids to get out of there.”

    Ah there is the rub.

    When selection in NI began only about 25% got selected, now the figure is more like 40% oveall and 50% in Belfast. What does that tell us about the value of selection?

    IMHO selection would work best if around 70% were selected on ability and motivation and the other 30% got the sort of quality teaching that their low ability and motivation required.

    That sort of selection is politically and socially repugnant as it really stigmatises those who fail the test.

    How much better to have a selection system which anyone can see is unfair and therefore there is much less stigma associated with failure.

    Is there a better way than these two alternatives?

    Any proper system has to recognize that children of low ability and motivation need more resources not less.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I have already attempted to answer the points you have now raised so it would be pointless to go over them again. Of course some schools remain very poor in the rest of the UK where comprehensive education is practiced. However your argument about if introduced in the North it would bring down overall standards just does not hold water. The overwhelming majority of the schools in the rest of the UK which did well as grammars have continued to do well, some even better, after they became comprehensives.

    Once you have a selective system of education it cannot but becomes an issue of winners and losers. The outcome of which is the winners end up defending selection tenaciously; and there is no better example of this than this current kerfuffle in the north..

    The losers are mainly in that group because they failed a test at 11 years old. That in itself for me is an abomination. The fact you correctly claim many people who failed the 11+ go on to make a good pair of shoes out of their lives surely enforces my argument against selection. As their exclusion from a crack at a uni education/whatever at aged 11 was an injustice, that they managed to overcome it is neither here nor there as far as bolstering the argument for selective education.

    I think there are other negative points about selection we have failed to touch on which have an enormous impact on societal cohesion, not least separating the classes into competing and separate groups whilst they are still children. For example how many protestant children go to catholic run grammar schools and possibly vice versa?

    OK, for historical reasons Catholic/nationalists working class parents seem to value education more than their working class Protestant counterparts, hence you find more working class nationalist children at the Norths (Catholic run) grammar schools than you do their protestant counterparts.

    But the fact is the system is broke; and tinkering around the edges in yet another vain attempt to keep the Status quo intact, which these days is basically the entire raison d’être of unionism what ever the party flag, will just not do if people are serious about raising educational standards right across the board.

    Best regards

  • wills

    Not sure if you are saying these children actually have ‘low ability’ or they lack motivation, etc and need extra support and encouragement, or both.

    For example I have a friend who can still hardly read or write, yet he is one of the most successful businessmen in my area. When we were kids he could do almost anything with his hands, by the age of 10 he could take a car to bits and return it to working order, decorate his parents home and turn a piece of tot into a pound. Plus cut wood from the hedge rows and make a mean catapult or bow and arrow.

    I suppose what I am trying to say is educating people is complex and a system of selection only makes it worse for those who become stigmatised as failures at age 11. What I find interesting about this thread is almost all those who support selection went to a grammar school themselves.

    Comrade Stalin

    I forgot to ask you how many of your fellow pupils who sat the 11+ passed it?

  • willis

    Mickhall

    Both. That is a good point you make about different intelligences.

    I’m not in favour of ‘academic’ selection at 11. I did go to a grammar school and enjoyed my time very much.

    I am in favour of pupils making selection choices at 14 and I am quite happy for them to be told that if they see their future as an astrophysicist they will need to show they can cope with complicated maths.

    Equally if they want to be a successful actor, their ability at maths is probably irrelevant as long as they can trust their accountant.

    Our recent ‘credit crunch’ has shown that a lot of good maths teaching was wasted.

  • willis

    MickHall

    I see what you mean now: either/or.

  • Some of the ‘middle class Prods ring fencing’ comments on here are a joke. Catholic schools are using tests as well as Protestent ones, what might be termed a cross cultural concensus, rare enough round here. This silo mentality of the minister is stifling any debate, clearly within her party as well. Primary school numeracy and literacy levels need addressed, the 11+ debate is secondary to that but still needs addressed asap.