“Nonsense, Minister.” – Redux

Sinn Féin’s ideologically driven campaign against grammar schools continues, and it’s the Northern Ireland Education Minister, SF’s John O’Dowd, who’s making the strange claims

When the Association of Quality Education (AQE) tests were being sat this year the Minister labelled them “a clever marketing device”. 

For the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) of schools, who will use a separate assesment test this weekend, he has claimed there is an anonymous “private donor” paying for it.  From the BBC report

“We have a private donor funding tests for young people to access publicly funded – taxpayers funded – education,” Mr O’Dowd said.

Well, it was his party colleague who privatised it in the first place…

But the same BBC report tells us that “Ronnie Hassard, from the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) of schools which use the GL assessment test, has said he knew of no private donor.”

Ronnie Hassard, the head-teacher at Ballymena Academy, which uses the GL assessment exam, said that the money for the tests came from individual grammar schools and was processed through the PPTC and paid to GL Assessment.

He said individual schools paid the money, and he did not know if they got it from elsewhere.

There are 34 schools in the PPTC.  And even if there was an anonymous “private donor” funding the free assessment it would not be the case, as the NI Education Minister also claims, that

More importantly we have a private funder barring young people accessing taxpayers publicly funded education and that in my opinion is even more important.” [John O’Dowd (added emphasis)]

Let the Minister argue that the individual parents who paid the £39.50 fee for the AQE assessment in the other 34 grammar schools are also “barring young people accessing taxpayers publicly funded education”. [Adds – And, as his predecessor discovered, nature abhors a vacuum…]

[Perhaps John O’Dowd’s mysterious ‘anonymous donor’ is Chuck Feeney? – Ed]  Perhaps not…