Professor Connolly led a team comprised of anti-academic selection, anti-grammar school zealots for the Education Minister to investigate how to advance shared education. Not surprisingly the major recommendation of the report was propose legislation to end academic selection making it illegal.
Read the Report here http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofEducation/MinisterialAdvisoryGroup/
Note that this Ministerial Report is hosted by QUB not his DENI and and is clearly a political position heralded by the university. Readers will recall that QUB School of Education also produced the report on The Effects of the Selective System of Secondary Education in Northern Ireland in 2000 but the publisher was DENI.
Good luck to all the pupils waiting for their transfer test results. The children and their parents/guardians are to be commended for their efforts. The children, not least, for being willing to have their numeracy and literacy skills tested and excerising their right to compete for a place in a grammar school. The parents/guardians for supporting the efforts of those schools determined to deliver the equality of opportunity that a transfer test affords. 2013 is the forth year that the “unregulated” tests have been organised and delivered to the highest of standards and it is testament to those who have resisted the determination of an Education Minister hellbound on removing parental choice for a grammar school education to match the needs of their children.
It is important when the results are known not to fall into the annual trap generated by opponents of selection by stressing over the marks or grades (these always remove information and should not ever be compared to the old CCEA grading system) obtained by the pupil. Expect and resist the rumour mill but instead arm yourself with the knowledge that until the admissions process is completed no one can issue a guarantee of a place at any grammar school. The marks/grades from previous years may give a reasonable indication of a school’s 2013 intake but do not be put off in listing a preference because of something someone has told you “on good authority” or “inside information”. Remember that Open Enrolment has resulted in about 42% of post-primary pupils getting a place in a grammar school.
In making a selection of preferences it is important to take into consideration future plans for the schools. There is little benefit in choosing a school which in a short period will no longer be a grammar school. The school is unlikely to inform you of their change in direction, after all they are competing for your child and relying on their marketing efforts. Your child will not benefit in the long run. Forty plus years of research evidence and data on attainment shows that mixed ability schools generally produce lower attainments at GCSE and A-Level.
Add to that the negative impact of the revised curriculum and the entitlement framework and the Education Minister's insistence in breaking parity on examinations with England and this year's cohort of parents making vital decisions on behalf of their children must be sure of their choices.
Specific information on schools will follow
If there was ever a need to answer the persistently wrong and ideologically failed attack on academic selection by 11-plus testing carried out by the DENI, an answer to an Assembly Question by a Sinn Fein MLA gives a resounding response.
|AQW 6202/11-15||Mr Daithí McKay
(SF – North Antrim)
It is little wonder that there were no press releases, planted media articles or angst-filled human interest stories obediently spewed up using words and phrases such as child abuse, stress-laden, difficult, morally wrong, scandalous. The DENI have known since the Household Survey of 2002 that the majority of parents want valid and reliable transfer testing at 11. Their miserable decade long campaign has resulted in failure but the DENI promote failure by denying the taxpayers their right to regulated testing and then object to and hamper those who suceed in doing their work for them. If an example of promoting failure is required then linking the ending of regulated transfer tests to the promotion of the multi-jobbing ESA Chief Execuive may be a good place to start.
Also note that there has been no effort by the unionist parties to highlight the response to AQW 6202/ 11-15. This may be explained by their secret desire to see the issue of transfer testing disappear or perhaps they don’t read answers that don’t refer to themselves.
One written complaint was received by the Western Education and Library Board in the last three years in relation to a primary school in that area preparing its pupils for unregulated transfer tests. No written complaints were received by any of the other boards during that period and records are not kept of any verbal complaints.
The Education Minister, John O’Dowd appeared on BBCNI’s Hearts & Minds programme on Thursday 16th February, 2012. He tried to defend his unpopular position opposing academic selection but failed to answer Noel Thompson’s charge that he had been defeated by parents.
He fell into the usual technique of parrotting the civil servants line of schools with academic excellence not academic selection. Unfortunately he choose St Dominic’s Girls Grammar School and St Rose’s Comprehensive as exemplars.
St. Dominic’s results for 7+ A* – C GCSE 93.4%;
St. Dominic’s results for 7+ A* – C GCSE with English & Maths 91.2%
St. Rose’s results for 7+ A* – C GCSE 24.1%;
St. Rose’s results for 7+ A* – C GCSE with English & Maths 16.7%
St. Dominic’s results for 5+ A* – C GCSE 97.8%;
St. Dominic’s results for 5+ A* – C GCSE with English & Maths 94.2%
St. Rose’s results for 5+ A* – C GCSE 48.1%;
St. Rose’s results for 5+ A* – C GCSE with English & Maths 22.2%
Why doesn’t the Education Minister focus his attention on improving numeracy and literacy teaching in primary schools instead of talking about his useless statutory Entitlement Framework?
February 4, 2012
Good luck to all pupils awaiting their examination results for Saturday 4th February, 2012. There are no failures among them regardless of the result or score.
The unregulated examinations have been conducted for the past three years without the threatened legal challenge promised by Sinn Fein’s Caitriona Ruane and are now established as the de facto 11-plus replacement for selection to grammar schools.
The difficulties between the two organisations AQE and PPTC are insurmountable so disregard recent utterances from politicians and their compliant friends in the media claiming that they will consolidate the groups into one testing agency. It would appear that the DUP are talking to the PPTC, “the Catholic Test” organisers and perhaps to the GBA, the Governing Bodies Association of the voluntary grammar schools but not to the AQE. As ever the politicians pretend to help but actually have done nothing but try to seize political advantage over a key concern of parents. Mervyn Storey claimed that he had been meeting with both testing groups but reliable sources confirm that no such meetings have taken place with the AQE testing agency.
Ignore all romours about the score required to gain a place at a particular grammar school.
No school principal or teacher has access to information which could allow any such claim. Previous years cut-off scores are only relevant to those years. Do not be put off making application to a school based on romour. Many will propagate disinformation in order to increase the chances of their child gaining a place at your expense.
The admission procedure is controlled by the Education & Library Boards and will not conclude until May. While this period of delay is unjustifiable it should come as no surprise to parents since all of the ELBs have an anti-academic selection and anti-testing stance. If ELBs cared about all pupils they would have taken steps to shorten the timescale.
Remember that there is no equivalency between the two tests. I.E. a particular score (or faux grade) for a GL test cannot be equated to an AQE score. This year quintiles have been dropped because of the deceptive use of the information, particularly by the media, to convert AQE scores into grades. Grades remove information and are therefore unhelpful to pupils and parents.
Top scores in the AQE test are likely to be lower than in previous years because of the availability of practice papers but median scores will be higher.
The GL Assessment test in English was harder this year. This is likely to have been in response to the widespread criticism of flaws in the GL test. With a limited bank of questions available the testing agency may have selected questions with a higher facility score (difficulty) from those available in order to suggest that they have been responsive.
More to follow
November 11, 2011
BBC Radio Ulster Evening Extra Listen from 37mins
BBC Radio Ulster Talkback Listen from 32 mins
BBC Radio Good Morning Ulster Listen from 1 hour 8 mins
Education Minister John O’Dowd launched a cynically-timed attack on Northern Ireland’s grammar schools running 11-plus selection tests on the eve of this years first examination. It comes on the back of his recent speech on teacher assessment replacing testing. Unfortunately for Mr O’Dowd PACE have already demonstrated the innacuracies associated with teacher assessment at Key Stage 3. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/northern-ireland%E2%80%99s-key-stage-3-literacy-levels-crash/
When will John O’Dowd learn that the battle to end academic selection has been lost? Since his DENI withdrew the regulated 11-plus without a replacement in place the vacuum was filled by parents teachers and pupils willing to continue a long tradition of providing an academic education to match pupil needs.
November 11, 2011
Fred Naylor, the co-founder of the Parental Alliance for Choice in Education has died, aged 92. Fred , who was in charge of the Bath Technical School, which later became Culverhay School, was actively involved in local and national education even after his retirement.
He was born in St Helen’s in Lancashire and after leaving school, went to study chemistry at Pembroke College, Cambridge.
It was while he was there that he met his future wife Marjorie, also a teacher, who died just a month before him, in September at the age of 86.
Fred Naylor taught at a number of schools around the country, including ones in Leeds and in Scotland, before joining the Bath Technical School in 1963.
While he was there he was seconded to work in London, on an educational think tank. It was during this time that the school system in Bath was reformed and went comprehensive, a change Mr Naylor was opposed to, so when his job was re-advertised he did not apply.
Instead, he went to work at Newton Park College, which later became Bath Spa University, and was involved with teacher training.
Mr Naylor and his family lived in Kingsdown, near Box, and throughout his retirement he continued to be interested in the local education system.
He set up the Parental Alliance for Choice in Education (PACE), which campaigned for parents to have more say over schooling, and was also active in the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA).
His work with these organisations led him to meet many influential politicians, including Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron.
One of Fred Naylor’s many publications had a particular emphasis on the Northern Ireland education system. Education for the 21st Century: Report by the Post Primary Review Body was published in October 2001 at the behest of Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s education minister. Known colloquially as the Burns Report, it advocates abolishing Northern Ireland’s grammar and secondary (modern) schools and setting up a new ‘collegial system’ of comprehensive schools without any concern for standards.
The pamphlet, Comprehensive Ideology: Burns and the Betrayal of Two Communities was written in response, though it is also relevant to the rest of the UK.
The authors of the Burns Report have failed to grasp that comprehensivisation has reduced educational opportunities on the mainland. Ever since 1972, when research by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) showed that comprehensivisation was a handicap to raising standards, the destruction of selective schools has been pursued for ideological, not educational, reasons.
The Burns Report is riddled with incoherences and omissions, not least the remarkable achievements of secondary (modern) schools. Fred Naylor uses quotations from supporters of comprehensivisation to show how illiberal they are and how they are undermining the Human Rights of parents. His analysis demonstrates that the ‘comprehensive principle’ is designed, not to protect and preserve different cultures, but to destroy them.
It is timely that the warnings provided by Fred Naylor and PACE are available to counter the cynical efforts of Sinn Fein Education Ministers determined to remove parental rights in education.
Comprehensive Ideology costs £4.00 including postage from 18 Westlands Grove, York YO31 1EF.
Peter Robinson this morning signaled his personal willingness to sacrifice the principle of academic selection in order to stay in power. In a statement conveniently timed with Cardinal Brady’s announcement for the future comprehensivisation of Catholic education, the DUP leader has signalled to Sinn Fein and other anti-selection that it is now safe for them to make academic selection and the 11-plus an issue over which they can threaten to bring down the Northern Ireland Executive. Peter Robinson has made the principle of selection negotiable.
“I am determined to ensure that an academic option is available to those from all backgrounds who wish to pursue this path.”
Peter Robinson First Minister
Unfortunately Mr Robinson has not insisted that during the interim period before any introduction of Computer Adaptive Testing, the AQE CEA 11-plus must become the only acceptable exams option not the GL Assessment one day and inferior approach.
Leaving the decision on agreeing a single test to grammar school principals at a meeting in Methodist College this evening is akin to Peter Robinson and the DUP insisting the the Ulster Unionists endorse the Hillsborough Agreement with Sinn Fein.
November 15, 2009
In a shocking revelation in the Sunday Times http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/article6917210.ece a report was passed to the government in July, only a few weeks before GCSE results were released, when Balls accused critics of exam standards of “rubbishing the achievements of young people”.
The government-backed study has undermined claims by Ed Balls, the schools secretary, that GCSE standards have been maintained, by showing that some science papers include questions so simple that they require no knowledge of the subject.
Sir Martin Taylor, vice-president of the Royal Society, Britain’s foremost scientific body said:
“If we have science exams that do not test the quality of mathematics needed to do good science, or if we have questions that do not require scientific knowledge to answer them, then we do not have an examination system that is fit for purpose.”
The findings also demonstrated that examination boards were allowing scientifically wrong answers to be marked as correct and that maths was only being tested “in a very limited way”.
Sir Cyril would be aghast at the policy of the Department of Education in Northern Ireland which has removed the statutory requirement for pupils to take GCSE English/Irish or Maths but has made it compulsory for primary school pupils to be assessed using a flawed assessment system form the CEM Centre at the University of Durham.
Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said the maths paper was easier than 11+ practice papers from 1960 with which he had compared it.
“That is an extraordinary indictment of the current UK education system,” said Pike. “We cannot continue to live the lie of ever-increasing standards while businesses struggle to recruit staff with numeracy skills, or who understand the quantitative basis of science.”
Richard Pike, chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry