“the current system is inefficient and we need to examine the case for reform of teacher education provision”

The BBC reports on the latest attempt by the Northern Ireland Employment and Learning Minister, the Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry, to reform the teacher training system here.    It follows the publication of a report on the first stage of the Study of the Teacher Education Infrastructure in Northern Ireland.  From the ministerial press release

“The research concluded that Stranmillis and St. Mary’s are the only teacher training establishments in the UK which receive premia additional to their core funding. The cost of these in 2011-12 amounted to £2.16million.

“As a result, the cost of training teachers in the university colleges is significantly higher than elsewhere – almost 40% higher than in the comparator English institutions cited in the report.

“Northern Ireland also provides funding to the Colleges of Education for non-initial teacher education courses to the value of another £2million in order to ensure that the colleges remain viable.

“In summary, our two university colleges are highly dependent on the number of teachers being trained, on the levels of grant per student and on funding for non-teacher education courses to remain financially viable.

“I believe that the training of teachers in Northern Ireland within the current system is inefficient and we need to examine the case for reform of teacher education provision.

“While I have no doubt as to the quality of the teaching carried out by any of the five providers of initial teacher education, my concerns are directed at the fragmented nature of the initial teacher education sector and the direct and opportunity costs that are consequentially borne by us all. I do not believe that any change in structure will impact on quality – indeed it may well add to it.

“The second stage of the Study of the Teacher Education Infrastructure will set out options for a more shared and integrated system for the delivery and funding of teacher education, involving all five teacher education providers.

The initial response from the principal of St. Mary’s University College suggests he expects political push-back on any integrated proposals.  From the BBC report

St Mary’s College principal, Professor Peter Finn, said their work was grounded in Catholic intellectual tradition of higher education.

“It promotes a Catholic philosophy and anthropology through the pursuit of excellence in learning and teaching.

“The college will guard and protect its ethos and identity, as well as its place as an integral element of the Catholic education sector.”

That push-back was evident when Minister Farry proposed a single teacher training system back in November 2011.  And as Mick noted then,

…the Minister is proposing the only evident practical way forward… Very handy for the DUP (‘all of us’), who will say getting St Mary’s into the wider picture is a necessary precursor to a wholesale re-engineering of the education system away from old sectarian lines…

And for Sinn Fein (‘separate but equal’), who are kicking him from the other side for a decision he has yet to make, but setting up conditions that might make it impossible for the Catholic St Mary’s College to maintain an independent status outside mainstream third level teacher training college…

There’s no major appetite for an integrated education system within the wider Catholic community. But the money is running out for Stranmillis. It remains to be seen whether there are legs in this fight, or if it’s just another sham fight for the benefit of the incumbents of OFMDFM; the top flight of the NI Adminstration…

It always helps when the main ministerial casulty is conveniently in another party altogether…

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  • cynic2

    If the Catholic Church wants its own college, fine. But let them pay for it.

  • Newman

    They did so for many years but lo and behold government realised that Catholics were tax payers too.. had the ability and right to lobby for their interests and that of the Catholic community to be properly accommodated..diversity and plurality are not bad things …they are a feature of western democracies and can be celebrated particularly if the alternative is an ersatz integration with lip service being paid to the Catholic worldview.

  • BluesJazz

    Less than 5% of graduates of all teacher training colleges (in NI) get employment in that field.
    Many more (overstaffed) schools will close in the next few years. With guaranteed reemployment packages.
    Lots and lots of unemployed graduates, very expensively trained- including important 1st communion training vital to the economic well being of the state.

    Our hospitals, especially A&E, are crashing through lack of funding. Care homes for the elderly are going to be shut -once the spotlight dims.

    Joined up government, or , feathernesting sectarian gatekeepers?

    So it goes…

  • aquifer

    In the US State Funding for religion is banned by the constitution.

    This has been conspicuously successful in avoiding conflict.

  • cynic2

    CAtholics and protestants have the right to have their children educated. But that is not the same thing as having a separate Catholic college that trains teachers in a discredited religious dogma and controlled by an organisation with a shameful record on protecting the safety of children.

    Education is also the last area where active discrimination in the employment of teachers is legally permissible. That too is an utter disgrace.

    What next? A separate training college for Islamic teachers? Buddhists?

    Sadly the only solution to this is a legal challenge and that seems unlikely.

    Stuck in their sectarian gutter, SF and the SDLP will never dare address it and will block all attempts to do so while the DUP (in the gutter but a different one) can sit back smiling benignly as they don’t want their children educated alongside themuns either but don’t need to do anything but sit and smile to achieve their objectives.

    What do we see proposed in education? In Omagh we will not have integration we will have separate Prod and Catholic schools on the same campus- institutionalised sectarianism

  • iluvni

    Is it in Moy that the children will turn left or right on entering the front door of the building to be schooled separately?
    15 years of ‘peace process’, billions of pounds and that’s what these indulged fools have delivered.

  • Barnshee

    An organisation that sets discrimination in education concrete has the nerve to include in its mission statement

    “a belief in the promotion of equal opportunities; recognising and celebrating differences occasioned by race, religion, gender, class and special need through adoption of non-discriminatory policies”

    who said irony was dead

    “In Northern Ireland, Roman Catholic schools are state-funded and organised and run by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS)”

  • Barnshee

    “There’s no major appetite for an integrated education system within the wider Catholic community.”

    I do wish the idea that this is based on religion would be recognised for the canard that it is (yes I know priests are in and out of Roman catholic schools)
    The purpose of the separate schooling is to promote Irishness

    There was near apoplexy this week in a “mixed marriage” relatives house when one of the children announced that today`s lesson was colouring in “our flag” aka the tricolour

    I left as the debate started

    Repeats
    “In Northern Ireland, Roman Catholic schools are state-funded and organised and run by the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS)”

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    As the last bastion of discrimination the Roman Catholic education sector and all those from that tradition who send their children to the Roman Catholic education sector are perpetuating sectarianism discrimination.

    And yet they will come on here and bemoan the PUL community. Oh the irony!!!

    I wonder how many of Roman Catholic community would stand for the fact that a large section of their community can’t get a job because of their religion???

    Can someone explain how a certificate in Roman Catholic education is relevant in any other subject other than RE???

    Is there Roman Catholic maths??? Is there Roman Catholic English??? Is there Roman Catholic IT???

    Or is it more the case as I suspect, more about the Roman Catholic Church’s paranoia at losing more control over the young and impressionable.

    As the Jesuits say “give me the child to 7 and I will give you the man”!!!

    Must rush have to go to my next class, Roman Catholic woodwork, pass the nails!!!!

  • Neil

    The purpose of the separate schooling is to promote Irishness

    The very thought! While over at ‘Prod schools’ referred to by Unionists above a strong sense of Britishness is instilled in the students. And we all know Irishness is just wrong.

    As the last bastion of discrimination the Roman Catholic education sector and all those from that tradition who send their children to the Roman Catholic education sector are perpetuating sectarianism discrimination.

    Sectarianism discrimination? Eh? What is it that Prods do when they send their kids to Prod schools (again, as referred to above by Unionist commentors)? Catholic bad, Protestant good? Sounds like it. If you ‘bemoan’ Catholics for sending their kids to Catholic schools I’m sure you have much ire for Prods who send their kids to Prod schools.

    Or is it more the case as I suspect, more about the Roman Catholic Church’s paranoia at losing more control over the young and impressionable.

    No I’d say Barnshee’s spot on. I personally want my children brought up in an Irish setting, with Irish culture and Irish symbolism and identity around them. Having been to one of those integrate Prod schools (Inst) I would certainly never consider sending my children into such a place for fear they would be coerced into joining the cadets, taught about the evil Palestinians and the noble decent Israelis and forced to sing ‘our’ national anthem (or take a digging later).

    As usual we mention integrated education and people start fantasising about the dismantling of Catholic schools and the assimilation of our kids into good British schools. Incidentally has anyone figured out how we can get round the fact that Catholic schools are located on property owned by the church which would cost tens of millions in rent without bankrupting the department yet? Thought not.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Thanks for your reply Neil, I think you summed it up perfectly for us all.

  • cynic2

    Is there Roman Catholic maths???

    No but there is Roman CAtholic creationism. And a denial of fundamental facts about the true nature and life of the universe. And an opposition to the use of emerging science in areas like genetics

  • cynic2

    ” I personally want my children brought up in an Irish setting, with Irish culture and Irish symbolism and identity around them”

    Fine. I support you in that – but do it at home and let them be educated with their British counterparts in a neutral environment that doesn’t demean or belittle their Irishness but isnt the be all and end all of it.

    And a question no one seems to be asking – just why do you want to subcontract teaching that to the Catholic Church?

    Why is the Catholic Church seen as the home of Irishness? Its supposed to be a religious body not a political one. IS it just that it doesn’t teach Proddies ?

  • Neil

    No but there is Roman CAtholic creationism. And a denial of fundamental facts about the true nature and life of the universe. And an opposition to the use of emerging science in areas like genetics

    Never came across any Catholic creationists, least of all amongst science teachers. The old Creationist nutters always seemed to be firmly on your side of the fence. That said I suppose we’ll have to console ourselves with our schools consistently and significantly outperforming non Catholic schools. I guess those nutty creationists aren’t dragging our grades down which is the main thing after all.

    http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6075453

  • Neil

    Fine. I support you in that – but do it at home and let them be educated with their British counterparts in a neutral environment that doesn’t demean or belittle their Irishness but isnt the be all and end all of it.

    With the right gaurantees I would support that. There’s a natural lack of trust in the state system from my point of view, having spent a couple of years there, so I’d be very keen to ensure they weren’t getting sneaky citizenship classes or something. And integrated needs to be 50:50 o pretty close.

    And a question no one seems to be asking – just why do you want to subcontract teaching that to the Catholic Church?

    Why is the Catholic Church seen as the home of Irishness? Its supposed to be a religious body not a political one. IS it just that it doesn’t teach Proddies ?

    No it’s just the way the chips fell and it’s the current system that delivers what I want. I don’t really want priests overly involved in the kids education and they’re not, apart from certain rituals like Communion etc. I’m just deeply suspicious that the drive behind some integrationists is the replacement of Catholic schools with Protestant/British/state schools.

  • Sp12

    “Is there Roman Catholic maths???

    No but there is Roman CAtholic creationism. And a denial of fundamental facts about the true nature and life of the universe. And an opposition to the use of emerging science in areas like genetics”

    CCMS do not teach creationism in science, they adhere with the curriculum. The only schools in NI that teach creationism as ‘fact’ are a small number of Independent Christian Schools, run, I believe, by the Free P Church.

    Those Free P schools also don’t teach sex education I’m told, in a CCMS school you get regular sex ed lessons in Biology, and the Church’s view on sex in RE classes.

    ” I support you in that – but do it at home and let them be educated with their British counterparts in a neutral environment that doesn’t demean or belittle their Irishness but isnt the be all and end all of it.”

    What would be neutral? No poppies on Remembrance day/week/month? Can the army come recruiting like they do in Catholic Schools in England? Celebrations to mark various royal family related days? Would they wave flags when Charles undergoes his coronation?

    It’s a non starter.
    If the issue at hand is that the majority of teaching positions are now in Catholic Schools and the CCMS regulations are blocking teachers without the necessary additional certificates in applying for jobs then that needs to be resolved.

    The thing is, we like our schools, we pay our taxes, we’re hanging onto them. Like we hung onto them when they didn’t receive proper state funding.

  • Barnshee

    “The thing is, we like our schools, we pay our taxes, we’re hanging onto them. Like we hung onto them when they didn’t receive proper state funding.”

    NI society is ” subvented” to allow standard unavailable without the contribution of the (other) UK taxpayers so your “irishness” along with a whole raft of other services is by the grace of the AFM tax payer

    “Catholic schools are located on property owned by the church which would cost tens of millions in rent without bankrupting the department yet? Thought not.”

    Other schools are located on property previously owned by church (and private owners) how much did /does it cost the Dept to rent them?

    How much of the property was state funded ?

    How much would it cost religious based schools to rent the state provided property they enjoy?

    How much of any alleged deficit in state funding for Roman catholic schools was due to the retention of church property by the church. Why should anyone maintain property they do not own?

    “I’m sure you have much ire for Prods who send their kids to Prod schools.”

    Outside of the lunatic fringe in the DUP there are no “Prod schools” There are no “Prod” schools where the clergy visits almost daily.

    There are state funded schools which conduct (currently compulsory under legislation) ” an act of worship” RE is also provided as a subject.

    Pupils /Parents can and do choose not to participate in morning worship and RE. Try doing that in a Roman Catholic school (currently causing havoc in Co Tyrone- no I won`t name the school)

  • Coll Ciotach

    Is there a power grab also being worked by Queens? Perhaps they are worried by their dept being unviable?

    Let us just call this as it is. Diversity in Ireland is fine – provided that it is not Catholicism.

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Let’s have a shared future but for god’s sake or is it because the pope, cardinal, bishop and priest want to keep our children separate until at least 18.

  • Sp12

    “NI society is ” subvented” to allow standard unavailable without the contribution of the (other) UK taxpayers so your “irishness” along with a whole raft of other services is by the grace of the AFM tax payer”

    My “irishness” as you put it, is funded by myself, I make a net contribution to the exchequer, thanks to a well paid job, which I have thanks to a good education at a CCMS grammar. If you have issues with how much you pay in and get out, that’s your problem.

    But yeah, lets get the taxpayers in the rest of the UK involved, give them the full picture as to what they are subventing, and how much better off they would be in terms of civil service job and the odd 8 or so billion a year. Let them know we here in Norn Irn don’t appreciate their choice to have 10% of their schools run as voluntary funded Catholic Schools, we should let them know it is too many based on only 8.6% of people there being Catholic, or abortion, or their stupid libel laws, or their support for gay marriage.
    How do you think that would work out?

  • Barnshee

    “My “irishness” as you put it, is funded by myself, I make a net contribution to the exchequer, thanks to a well paid job, which I have thanks to a good education at a CCMS grammar. If you have issues with how much you pay in and get out, that’s your problem”

    You are one of the “parsites” correctly identified by the late Harold Wilson “who do these people think they are”

    Your well paid ,inevitably state sector or state sector dependant job would not exist were N Ireland forced to stand on its own feet.

    I am adelighted that you “make a net contribution” since the whole mess is in serious deficit overall iI would love to see the costings
    Some aweful people must be seriously “overdrawn”

    “But yeah, lets get the taxpayers in the rest of the UK involved, give them the full picture as to what they are subventing,”

    I have been hoping so for years – the sooner NI is dumpted onto its own resources (ahahaha) the better

  • Old Mortality

    SP3
    Congratulations, if you are really one of that relatively small group in NI that are are ‘well-paid’ but don’t depend on the state for even part of it.
    The problem is there aren’t enough of you to pay for a separate RC/Irish education system.

  • Sp12

    “You are one of the “parsites” correctly identified by the late Harold Wilson “who do these people think they are””

    What, I’m a loyalist intimidating utility workers in the 70s?
    If you’re going to try and insult me, put in a wee bit more effort than you did when trying to get me to care about how you think other peoples taxes should or shouldn’t be spent.
    It means as much to me as your opinion on where you think I should shop.

    All the unionist foot stamping in the world won’t trump parental choice by catholic parents. And we choose not to send our children to state schools.
    Besides there’s not enough of them now anyway considering the breakdown of school children is 51%/27%/12% catholic/protestant/other.
    You just need to deal with that guys.

  • Sp12

    37% that is 😉

  • BluesJazz

    Sp12

    Do you not find it offensive that the FE Colleges are all state maintained? Shouldn’t there be Catholic ones to counter the British catering and engineering courses currently on offer at BMC?

  • Barnshee

    “What, I’m a loyalist intimidating utility workers in the 70s?
    If you’re going to try and insult me, put in a wee bit more effort than you did when trying to get me to care about how you think other peoples taxes should or shouldn’t be spent.
    It means as much to me as your opinion on where you think I should shop.”

    A careful read of my comments would show that I include all of N Ireland (Prod and Mick ) as parasites.

    When you shop you are spending your “own” (again probably British taxpayers money)

    When you use the Health service, Education system Unemployment Benefit, Family credit, Roads etc. you are using tax payer funded systems These functions are subsidised by the UK taxpayer (SE England Branch)
    The sooner this subsidy is removed the better.

    If you do wish to look at subsidy more closely you could investigate the detail of

    1 Which services are subsidised?
    2 Where the burden falls?
    3 What are balances of consumption across sections or subdivisions of the population ?

    Hint start in education

  • Sp12

    “Do you not find it offensive that the FE Colleges are all state maintained? ”

    Bit of a green fruit vs orange fruit comparison there BlueJazz, and absolutely nothing to do with certificates required for teaching.
    The only offense being displayed here is by those angry at the idea that catholic parents can exercise parental choice by not sending their children to schools with special assemblies for remembrance day and flag waving for jubilees.

    “When you shop you are spending your “own” (again probably British taxpayers money)”

    No, I’m actually not. I’m spending the money I earn for working for a private company that earns about 95% of it’s revenue from customers in the United States.

    “When you use the Health service, Education system Unemployment Benefit, Family credit, Roads etc. you are using tax payer funded systems These functions are subsidised by the UK taxpayer (SE England Branch)”

    An oversimplification you’re hanging onto as it’s the foundation of your justification to referring to 1.5 million people as ‘parasites’.
    The amount my family contributes to the national purse and the amount we receive in services in return is determined by how much my wife and I earn, not by where we live. Apologies if you now have to expand your concept from two actors to 62 million, but that’s actually the way things are.

  • Barnshee

    An oversimplification you’re hanging onto as it’s the foundation of your justification to referring to 1.5 million people as ‘parasites’

    “You “as a collective do not pay your way t My only concern is that the sooner the subvention is removed the better

    The amount you receive in services is determined precisely by where you live -ie currently in the UK –as I note above I woul;d love to see your “costings”

    PS I fully support your rifgt to send amy offspring to the school of your choice

  • Seamuscamp

    Cynic 2

    “Roman Catholic creationism”

    My understanding of Catholic teaching on creationism and evolution goes back some 60 years or so. It was then based on the Encyclical “Humani Generis” of Pope Pius XII (1950). Evolution, said the Pope, was a valid theory, not yet proven, but worthy of appropriate study. At a time when there were various competing ideas on evolution, this was a surprisingly liberal statement (though he clearly didn’t believe in evolution himself). As I remember it the Christian Brothers were pretty relaxed about evolution and saw no threat in it to belief in God or the centrality of the soul.

    On October 22, 1996 Pope John Paul II issued a statement to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. In a document entitled “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth” John Paul defended the evidence for evolution and the consistency of the theory with Catholic religious doctrine. In the words of Stephen Jay Gould (an ignostic by the way): “Newspapers throughout the world responded with front-page headlines, as in The New York Times for October 25th: “Pope Bolster’s Church’s Support for Scientific View of Evolution. …..and ….the conservative Il Giornale shouted from its masthead “Pope Says We May Descend From Monkeys.”

    I don’t doubt for one moment that there are Catholic creationists; for all I know they may be in the majority; and it may even be that not all the hierarchy hold the same opinion as John Paul. But your throwaway remark about Catholic creationism shows enough ignorance to refute your opinions on the matter.

  • BluesJazz

    “John Paul defended the evidence for evolution and the consistency of the theory with Catholic religious doctrine”

    Well, he’s talking nonsense. The evidence for Evolution is irrefutable, despite the Abrahamic faiths (including Roman Catholicism) disputing it and only tentativlely accepting it when Crick and Watson kicked the door in their gibberish.
    All creation mythology has been smashed. Catholicism, and other similar mythologies, shamelessly make it up as they go along.
    It’s nonsense. Like Astrology. There isn’t a shred of evidence for any of it. Yet the government allows it to plough its fallow furrough because old people still believe in it through ignorance.
    Religion and Science are not compatible. Accept one or the other and decide whether your a rational mammal or not.

  • Sp12

    Barnshee
    “You “as a collective do not pay your way”

    I’m not a ‘collective’. I’m a working father with a child and a working wife.
    By the way you can get a stripped down version of the tax calc that was once resident on the DFP (iirc) website on the BBC web site, pop in your income, family situation and get a low down on whether you pay more in or get more out.
    Glad to hear you support parental choice though.

    BlueJazz
    “Well, he’s talking nonsense. The evidence for Evolution is irrefutable, despite the Abrahamic faiths (including Roman Catholicism) disputing it and only tentativlely accepting it when Crick and Watson kicked the door in their gibberish.”

    He’s also dead, Nelson and Poots are very much alive. And you seem to be confusing Semuscamp’s statement that the now dead Pope defended the evidence for evolution with the biggest Unionist party’s members refuting it.
    It’s not Catholics insisting on young earth nonsense at the giant’s causeway or in museums. It’s the DUP.

  • Seamuscamp

    Blues Jazz

    There is a clear inadequacy in whatever school system you attended. Either that or you weren’t there when they covered reading; or perhaps you didn’t understand that words convey meaning. I pointed out that John Paul defended evolution; you say he talked nonsense. Does that mean that you are a follower of Archbishop Ussher who calculated the date of Creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC? Or just maybe you are confounded by your prejudices

  • Barnshee

    SP12
    ” a stripped down version of the tax calc that was once resident on the DFP (iirc) website on the BBC web site, pop in your income, family situation and get a low down on whether you pay more in or get more out.”

    Can`t find it -any chance of a URL

  • BluesJazz

    Nope
    I meant he was talking nonsense when he decreed that Biology is consistent with (in his case-Catholic) religious doctrine. It isn’t.
    Despite all the attempts to square the circle, faith and science are polar opposites. You cannot accept a ‘virgin’ birth and people rising from the dead and all the other shite when it contradicts all scientific laws.
    Wishing it were so doesn’t cover it.

  • Seamuscamp

    Blue Jazz

    Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle. The topic was your “Catholic creationism”. It’s like arguing with a child suffering from attention deficiency.

  • BluesJazz

    ‘Creationism’, is bunkum. But then so are all religions.
    The so called mainstream churches are just as deluded as Poots and co. They base their belief system on so called holy books which are a catch all of patriarchal stories from several thousand years ago.
    Having a ‘Catholic’ school or teacher college is as delusional as having a ‘Pisces’ school, or a ‘Psychic’ school.
    Schools should be for promoting education (based on evidence), not for promoting mythology.
    We effectively have 2 teacher training colleges promoting different mythologies, a bit like having a Wotan college and a Zeus college, with affiliated schools.
    The exceptions being the FE sector.

  • BluesJazz

    ps Seamuscamp and sp12
    I’m not averse to bunkum. I enjoy Game of Thrones and if i’d been a Catholic I’d have went to mass to check out the talent, never one to miss out on opportunities by taking a pragmatic approach to life.

  • Sp12

    Barnshee

    The stripped down version is here
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13633966
    No where near as good as the one that was on one of the .gov web sites a few years back, that gave a comprehensive breakdown.

    Bluejazz
    I don’t send my daughter to a CCMS school so that she comes away with an opinion on transubstantiation vs consubstantiation. Nothing I mentioned in my (still unanswered) questions as what integrated state education would entail even suggests that. To be honest I couldn’t care less about virgin births and the seven sacraments.
    I chose a CCMS school because CCMS schools have an Irish ethos, one that reflects my cultural background and aspirations.

  • Old Mortality

    SP12
    ‘I chose a CCMS school because CCMS schools have an Irish ethos, one that reflects my cultural background and aspirations.’

    I’m sure you’re in the majority which begs the question of why the church continues to involve itself in what is essentially ethnic education. It’s particularly relevant now that many Catholic schools have signficant numbers of immigrant pupils. I doubt that they choose Catholic schools because they want their children to acquire an Irish cultural background. Should Polish children be forced to play Irish games when they’d rather be playing football let alone being foced to learn the language?

  • Seamuscamp

    Old Mortality

    I don’t follow your logic. Who is forcing Polish children to play Irish games? Who is forcing Polish children to learn Irish? They will of course be forced to learn English (and if they went to a state school such as the one attended by Blue Jazz they’d learn to write English badly) and only the foolhardy would protest about that.

    I think that there is more soccer played at Catholic schools than there is Gaelic football at the segregated state schools. And Ulster Rugby have been invited to shopfront their skills at a number of Catholic schools.

    Anyway, on what basis do you claim to know about the aspirations of immigrant families? Why do you think they don’t flock to state schools rather than being forced to play Gaelic football/

    Finally, do you not accept that Mr Gove is advocating an ethnic (British) education system?

  • Sp12

    Old Mortality

    There was definitely more football than GAA games played at my school, a lot depended on the teacher mind you.
    Perhaps it’s a Derry thing, where at least in the city, football was promoted more than GAA, something which I was once told was because the priests believed the local GAA lads to be a bit too ‘chuckie!’.
    Father Iggy did enjoy his hurling though, and was usually the only member of staff cheering us on from the sidelines even if we were playing on a field with a 40 degree angle somewhere in Donegal or Omagh.

    When I visited my daughter’s school for the first time last year I was impressed by the Polish translator standing next to the Headmaster who could even translate when he slid into Irish.

    Just because I send my child to a CCMS school for it’s Irish ethos, doesn’t mean that’s the only reason to send your child to one. For some parents it could be for the Catholic ethos, for others, like the parents of the 12% of children who are Protestant in my child’s school (an overwhelming Protestant town btw), it’s a pragmatic choice based on the school’s academic record.

    To my mind, at least I’m honest about my choices.
    I don’t decry grammar school education and support religious education like many nationalist politicians, nor scream about segregated religious education whilst trying to save grammar and prep schools like unionists.