Are we reaching the end of the education crisis?

The SDLP, DUP, UUP and Alliance have agreed to establish an educator-led group to find a short-term compromise while seeking a long-term solution to the transfer crisis. The make-up of this group will be announced in early January and the group will work with the four parties to bring forward a solution to the Assembly Education Committee.

This is a significant step forward and will be welcome news to parents and teachers across the region.

Dominic Bradley MLA noted; “There is a lot of work ahead, but we are now working towards a common purpose. This is the only initiative that is taking place, the only source of leadership on the issue, and it is deserving of support. No one else is working on an overall solution, certainly not the Minister. She has let it all drift for long enough, but now we need a sense of direction.”

  • Paul

    Its good news and very welcome the sinn fein education minsters attitude and performance has being quite appalling.If sinn fein ignore this one would hope the voters will give them there verdict in next years gen election.

  • Mark McGregor

    What a waste of time. If the shinner’s haven’t bought-in and they haven’t this is just a pointless talking shop. They sure as hell ain’t going to implement ideas that completely ignore Ministerial portfolio and step outside Assembly mechanisms just as the DUP haven’t listened to any interest bodies on the Irish Language Act. The group sure as hell won’t be able to produce a consensus view anyhow.

    The only way this will be resolved is if the shinner’s get a titter of wit, do some sort of cloaked climb down and suggest a version of the Dickson plan.

  • wild turkey

    ‘an educator-led group to find a short-term compromise while seeking a long-term solution to the transfer crisis.’

    Conall. Up front let me declare a vested interest on this issue. They are two children; one currently in P6 the other in P5.

    Questions. which you or may not be able to answer. in the absence of an answer some pointers would be helpful. here goes…

    1. does the group have Terms of Reference?
    2. is the groups immediate priority a short term compromise or a long term ‘solution’?
    3. if a short term compromise is the immediate objective, I’d be interested on your take on the probability that the short-term compromise transmustes into the long-term solution.
    4. when there is a new election for the assembly, do you have any sense that the four parties participating in the group have or will reach an understanding on what party will take-up the education portfolio to forge a long-term solution?
    5. if you went to the bookies tomorrow morning, what odds would you find acceptable that this new initiative will go belly-up by springtime?
    6. all political parties take soundings on the ground, including formal and informal surveying. what percentage of past and potential SDLP voters favour the retention of the grammar school system and academic selection at age 11?

    just asking, like.

  • Panic, these ones like it up em.

    Its time that the politicians got on and actually do something.

    Talking shops are okay but eventually everyone gets fed up of all talk and no action

  • Paul

    #

    Its time that the politicians got on and actually do something.

    Talking shops are okay but eventually everyone gets fed up of all talk and no action
    Posted by Panic, these ones like it up em. on Dec 17, 2009 @ 06:24 PM

    In response to the above the politicans want to get on with it.Its sinn fein who are stopping any attempts at moving things on.In fact there should be sanctions taken against the education minster for her and her parties behavier. sinn fein should be viewed by anyone with utter contempt.

  • regimental 1912

    It is a disgrace that children of all faiths and none are being dragged into this childish disagreement,it was foolish to say the least to abolish one thing with nothing to replace it.It is so bad that even some s/f mla’s are questioning its wisdom,I find it strange that the minister in question never appears to defend her decision or be questioned on it.It would give s/f some credibility if they sacked her.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Can I add that I hope it dosnt become a “sectarian issue” and the unionist parties also put forward representatives who opposed acedemic selection at 11, which would be my viewpoint and that of most of thier electorate, and that the SDLP also reflect the views of those maintained schools that have opted for the tests.
    The old 11+ system was such a farce it completely unbelieveable that someone could have made it even worse, but minister Ruane has managed the impossible.

  • regimental 1912

    Totally agree with drumlins,the childrens education is too important to become a political/sectarian football,there are pros and cons for each system which should be discussed fully and without party whips involvement,the future of todays youth is more important than ego’s and all camps should expect a backlash if an agreement in not forthcoming

  • Mark McGregor

    Unfortunately, unless Sf are engaged in this exercise it will end up being presented, regardless of any good intentions, as a Ruane bashing exercise (and by god does she deserve bashed).

    The only way this can move forward is if some shinners see sense and that won’t happen with a group organised by all their electoral opponents.

    This is doomed to failure from the outset, just like the BT campaign that got 10,000 signatures but less than 100 real people to turn up for the big delivery march.

    About time any on the ground shiner stopped whispering about their discomfort with the failure and demanded internally their Minister and advisers around her got a big does of reality.

  • Salem

    Given that she would be automatically replaced by another sinn fein MLA – if there was a vote of no confidence or she resigned. We would be back to square No.1 and no further along.

  • PACE Parent

    Conall,

    Take a look at http://paceni.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/northern-ireland’s-key-stage-3-literacy-levels-crash/

    Now that you are an MLA (albeit unelected) perhaps you will provide the SDLP position on the effects of the revised curriculum on numeracy and literacy outcomes.
    After all, this common curriculum is practiced in all schools including grammars. It is of concern that none of the education watchdogs have commented on what is clearly a decline in standards.
    If you get stuck you may ask your friend Tony Gallagher for an explanation. If he can’t help then Diane Dodds MEP may be able to provide insight.

  • PACE Parent

    Apologies for bad link.
    Use http://paceni.wordpress.com/ instead

  • Driftwood
  • Wild Turkey.

    Good questions.

    Sorry for the delay in replying. Will never undertand how everything needs to be finished before Xmas!

    Anyway on your points:

    1. does the group have Terms of Reference?

    Yes, six key areas of agreement between the parties taking part have been published, the agreed detailed terms of reference will likely be published in the new year following the educator group’s initial meetings..

    2. is the groups immediate priority a short term compromise or a long term ‘solution’?

    The educator group have been asked to look at a short term compromise as an immediate priority, but within the context of the need for a long term agreed solution.

    3. if a short term compromise is the immediate objective, I’d be interested on your take on the probability that the short-term compromise transmutes into the long-term solution.

    The likelihood of finding a short-term compromise which transmutes into long-term solution will be greatly enhanced by having a group of experienced educators working closely with the cross-party group.

    4. when there is a new election for the assembly, do you have any sense that the four parties participating in the group have or will reach an understanding on what party will take-up the education portfolio to forge a long-term solution?

    I understand the issue of the 2011 Assembly election and a possible change of Minister has been discussed in the talks, because as the SDLP outline in their policy document on the issue, “Following an Assembly election a new Education Minister may propose radically different guidelines for post-primary transfer involving a complete policy reversal, with the prospect of further upheaval and more distress for our children”

    5. if you went to the bookies tomorrow morning, what odds would you find acceptable that this new initiative will go belly-up by springtime?

    The odds on a new initiative going belly up would be short, however, I am pleased that the four parties are genuinely engaging on the issue and as Mark McGregor points out it is essential that Sinn Féin also engage. If these talks begin to produce answers it will become much harder for any one party to pull out or for Sinn Féin to remain disengaged.

    6. all political parties take soundings on the ground, including formal and informal surveying. what percentage of past and potential SDLP voters favour the retention of the grammar school system and academic selection at age 11?

    I don’t have a figure for you, however the SDLP have a long held view that academic selection is academically unsound and socially unjust. I imagine voters take that into account when voting SDLP.

  • Thanks for your comments as always PACE.

    Unfortunatley, I just dont agree with your analysis.

  • PACE Parent

    What you really meant to say Conall is that, as always, you have no answers. If you have an alternative analysis for the marked decline in numeracy and literacy standards please do let Slugger readers know.
    As for your final paragraph in #14 your “imagination” is running wild. Since the SDLP and your political rivals, Sinn Fein and Alliance, are also anti-selection, anti-grammar hypocrites voters have no education policy option choices to differentiate between the parties. This dilemma was further exacerbated when the recent entrance exams for Catholic grammars showed that over 6000 sets of parents entered their children for the selective tests. I suggest that your scaremongering tactics are wasted on parents/voters who can see past the self-serving rhetoric of statements such as “Following an Assembly election a new Education Minister may propose radically different guidelines for post-primary transfer involving a complete policy reversal, with the prospect of further upheaval and more distress for our children”

    The crisis is over Conall. Unregulated tests for admission to grammar school have survived the threats and bluster. Your seeking to inflame the situation simply reveals you to be an empty vessel. Read the Belfast Telegraph today http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/the-future-of-education-cannot-be-compromised-14603314.html
    Perhaps you should talk to your neighbours for an expert opinion and report back. I’ll put the kettle on…..

  • wild turkey

    Conall

    thanks for your comprehensive reply. I don’t why but I am reminded of the following;

    “Don’t worry, boys, we’ll weather this storm of approval and come out as hated as ever.”

    Saul Alinsky (see link below)

    http://www.progress.org/2003/alinsky2.htm

    Anyway…

    Conall have a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and an intriguing 2010.

    good luck