“rather than trying to pretend that essentially, testing does not exist”

As the BBC notes, the Northern Ireland Education Minister, the DUP’s Peter Weir, has reversed the department’s previous position prohibiting the use of academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils transfer to.  That position was set out in 2008 by then NI Education Minister, Sinn Féin’s Caitríona Ruane, and upheld by the subsequent Minister, Sinn Féin’s John O’Dowd.  From the BBC report A circular sent to school principals on Wednesday removes any prohibition on using academic selection to decide what post-primary school pupils …

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“all schools in the Catholic sector should move to an alternative form of transfer as soon as possible and by no later than 2012…”

Six years in the writing, the Northern Ireland Commission for Catholic Education (NICCE) has published its Post-Primary Review Strategic Regional Report. It’s a mixture of proposals of limited school closures, amalgamations… and wishful thinking. As the BBC reports, Catholic Church representatives have been focusing on one issue in particular. Cardinal Brady was speaking at St Mary’s College in Belfast when he criticised continuing academic selection by schools. “It is totally unacceptable that some Catholic schools are, in effect, becoming all ability …

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Some secondary schools get better results than selective grammar schools

In days and weeks to come, there may be many ways to slice and dice the data that Kathryn Torney published in The Detail and the Sunday Times this morning. Chris has already alluded to the potential weakness in directly comparing the raw NI stats about numbers of pupils achieving 7 or more GCSEs at grades A*-C including English and Maths with English secondary schools given the selective nature of the NI educational system. I wondered about the blurred boundary …

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Which hat is a politician wearing when they speak? Readers need context.

Jonathan Craig - MLA and chair of the board of governors of Laurelhill Community College

An article in Wednesday’s Belfast Telegraph [not online] (that made it onto the front page by the evening edition) drew attention to the latest Education and Training Inspectorate report on Laurelhill Community College in Lisburn. Lindsay Fergus reported that: A sixth secondary school in greater Belfast has been placed under special measures after being found to be inadequate by Government inspectors. Laurelhill Community College was criticised for “inadequate” standards achieved by key stage four pupils. The percentage of pupils achieving …

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The not-so-elitist grammar school education (with the exception of Lumen Christi and Rathmore)

An article in today’s Belfast Telegraph [some detail now online] contains the results of this year’s Freedom of Information trawl around NI grammar schools to find out about their Year 8 entrance policies for the 2011 intake. With two different exam systems (AQE and GL assessment), varying degrees of using the overall scores or grades/quintiles, and some schools , the results are even more difficult to compare than last year (which I posted about in September). The chart below shows …

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Grammar school intake – hoovering up pupils at the expense of local secondary schools?

Chart showing which how pupils at each grade and quintile that were accepted in by each Grammar school in 2010

Having posted about and charted the recent GCSE results, my thinking turned to that old chestnut of grammar school intake. While some grammar schools manage to fill their First Form Year 8 places with pupils achieving the top grades/marks in transfer tests, others fill up with local students right the way across the academic spectrum. The Belfast Telegraph normally splash with them in mid-October when they have been collated (ie, FOIed). The 2011 figures aren’t yet available, so the charts …

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