“We believe this is a crude attempt to circumvent the proper and long-established channels of financial accountability within education”

The BBC notes the declared intention of the board of governors of  Catholic grammar school Loreto College to end academic selection from 2012 or 2013 – you can check the most recent figures on Loreto’s academically selected intake here.  By the way, how is that review going?  And the BBC report quotes the Catholic Principals’ Association chair Seamus Quinn

CPA chair Seamus Quinn said: “Loreto has followed the moral and spiritual guidance provided by the Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE).

“Their decision is an important step and it directly challenges those claiming that Catholic schools are based upon rejection.

“All children are welcomed to experience academic excellence and personal fulfilment within Catholic schools.

“Rejection of any kind runs contrary to our Catholic ethos.”

[So all applications are accepted? – Ed]  Probably not…

Meanwhile the Belfast Telegraph reports on the Northern Ireland Education Minister Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane’s continuing campaign against the grammar school sector – calling on individual schools to outline how they fund their entrance exams. 

As I indicated previously, “educational choice” is a relative term for some…

From the Belfast Telegraph report

The Governing Bodies Association (GBA), which represents 52 voluntary grammars, has sought legal advice on the Minister’s request.

GBA director John Hart said: “We believe this is a crude attempt to circumvent the proper and long-established channels of financial accountability within education.

“Frankly if the minister has washed her hands of responsibility for academic selection she would be better letting those with a more responsible approach get on with it instead of petty badgering,” he added.

Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, chair of AQE, said: “You can be assured that before proceeding as it did the AQE took the best possible legal advice and I have no doubt individual schools also did so.”

And the paper recently reported on the 71,916 “unoccupied seats and desks” in primary and post-primary schools in Northern Ireland.

‘Unfilled places’ is defined as the difference between the approved enrolment number — which can be increased by the department temporarily — and the actual enrolment.

Ms Ruane’s response in April shows there are 67,037 unfilled places in total in primary schools and 18,379 in post-primary schools. But the 85,416 overall total has to be reduced by 13,500 to account for the pupils with statements of special needs who are admitted over and above approved enrolment numbers.

Whatever happened to area-based planning?

  • Congal Claen

    If the Catholic Church is so against selection how come Maynooth place applicants…

    “in order of merit on the basis of the common points system, and places are allocated according to the highest preference, in their application through CAO, to which their points entitle them”


    Sounds like academic selection to me. Or is it just that selection is bad for 11 year olds, but fine for 17 year olds? Doesn’t sound very principled to me…

  • Cynic

    “Doesn’t sound very principled to me…”

    It is the Catholic Church we are talking about isn’t it.All are equal before God …….except ………

  • “the declared intention of the board of governors”

    Were Loreto parents consulted or did the governors simply acquiesce to a NICCE edict? There was a rumpus years ago when Loreto transformed from a girls to a co-ed voluntary grammar school and allegedly disregarded complaints from St Josephs Secondary School in the town.

    Over in Ballycastle a grammar and a secondary school were merged to form a comprehensive school [cf the state school is comprehensive]. Quite a few pupils from Ballycastle are now bussed 15/20 miles to grammar schools in Ballymoney and Coleraine.

    Some schools in the Coleraine district are a bit grammar lite. From the BelTel stats:

    Dalriada 100% A; 0% C-D
    Loreto College 87% A: 1% C-D
    Dominican College 38% A; 25% C-D
    Coleraine High 32% A; 35% C-D
    Coleraine Inst 23% A; 54% C-D

    Dominican College has a Presbyterian Clerk of Session for a Principal and a significant percentage of non-Catholic teachers.

  • Pete,
    It will come as no surprise to those schooled in the ways of operating the Catholic education system that the “free” selection tests operated by their Post Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) were not actually with cost. In spite of numerous requests for the specification of the GL Assessment tests run by the PPTC no such document has been made available or public. However PACE were able to extract from Ballymena Academy using FOI a response which confirmed that the school had paid £6550 toward the costs of operating the GL Assessment tests. Now if you include all the Catholic Grammars and the couple of Integrated All-Ability (comprehensive) schools using academic selection the sums soon mount up.
    It is no wonder credibility for Church leaders is rock bottom when abuse of the English language extends to the pretense that free means without cost.

  • seniorhas

    And what about the “private” schools such as Glongowes,etc. How do they select their pupils??

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Catriona must be pleased (cue Unionist fury) perhaps Loreto may herald an outbreak of common sense amongst the grammar schools.

    Robbo may have idavertently moved the balance in Catriona’s favour by his lashing out at the Catholic sector and providing SF with the opportunity to speak up on their behalf and he may reasonably expect movement on selection in return.

  • barnshee

    Th9is has more to do with falling rolls and teachers bums on seats rather than any sudden discovery of “the right thing to do” God help St Josephs and Lady of Lourdes