April 11, 2013
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.
December 22, 2009
The future of education cannot be compromised
The search for a consensus in the debate over post-primary education is flawed, simplistic and anti-democratic, says Robert McCartney QC. Either we retain selection, or we don’t
Friday, 18 December 2009
While the good intentions of the Belfast Telegraph in attempting to resolve the chaos in education are praiseworthy, it is doubtful if its Sit Down, Sort It Out campaign will provide the solution.
Sentiments such as ‘agreement’ and ‘consensus’ invest their users with a halo of goodness, but rarely address the complexities of the issues.
The popular belief that every problem is capable of solution by getting people to sit around a table to achieve compromise consensus is both flawed and simplistic. It is also the antithesis in many cases of the democratic process. True representative democracy accepts that the electorate may make a choice between conflicting policies and offers procedures for a decision between them in the absence of agreement.
In place of real democracy, Northern Ireland has a permanent mandatory consensual requirement so in the absence of agreement nothing is decided and chaos prevails.
The DUP claims that at St Andrews it preserved the principle of selective education. Sinn Fein and the SDLP, having removed the 11-Plus as the method of selection can however effectively block any alternative form, thereby rendering any regulated implementation of the principle impossible.
For a newspaper to advocate a particular consensual solution that would require one or other of the conflicting opinions to prevail, is a course of action fraught with danger.
The present crisis in education centres on the differences between those who believe in selection and those who oppose it.
The former see the purpose of an educational system as one which provides every child an equal opportunity to attend a school best suited to the fullest realisation of its potential. This requires a selective process.
Those who oppose selection believe that the purpose of a school system is not simply to provide appropriate excellent education; it is a means of implementing a system of social engineering to advance some ideological idea or political policy of which they approve. They do not believe in the liberal concept of equality of opportunity – they advocate the Marxist idea of equality of results.
Divested of any political content and viewed objectively, the selection system in Northern Ireland has for years produced the best GCSE and A-Level results in the United Kingdom and totally outperformed its comprehensive counterparts.
In terms of upward social mobility which education is supposed to promote, 42% of the Northern Ireland students going to university are from the lower income groups compared with some 28% from the comprehensives in England and Wales.
In terms of quality education, the demise of the grammar schools is now almost universally acknowledged as a mistake which it is nearly impossible to reverse. The eminent sociologist and educationalist Musgrove described the Labour Party’s betrayal of the working class by the introduction of the comprehensive system in the following terms:
”The Labour Party did not abolish the Great Public Schools, the obvious stronghold of upper class privilege. With unbelievable perversity they extinguished the only serious hope of working class parity. The upper class kept their public schools, the working class lost theirs.”
Critics of selection, forced to accept the excellent results of the grammar schools, counter by alleging the system produces a long tail of under-achievers. This is not even supported by the minister’s Education Department. In the department’s report for the year ending 2008 it confirms that of some 24,000 school leavers, only 850 left without a GSCE – a result that compares favourably with mainland Britain’s comprehensive system.
Northern Ireland’s grammar schools have demonstrated their determination to maintain their commitment to academic excellence in the face of pressure from political parties, clerical institutions, and those progressive educationalists whose theories have failed on both sides of the Atlantic.
Parents exercising the choice offered to them by the grammar schools have shown their support by the number of their children they have submitted to the tests provided. Before the introduction of the foundation curriculum designed to abolish the free preparation for the 11-Plus provided by the primary schools, lower-income parents did not need to pay for coaching. It is these parents whose children could possibly suffer some future disadvantage.
Insofar as it can be discerned the Belfast Telegraph’s Sit Down, Sort It Out campaign seems to have settled on transfer at 14 as the preferred option. In support of this, an array of educational experts was assembled.
Of the few that are professionally engaged in education, both Professors Smyth and Gallagher are publicly declared anti-selection activists. At this point, it should be noted transfer at 14 can be effected either by a selective process, as in the Dickson Plan, operating in Craigavon, or an elective process by parents, as proposed by the minister.
Under the Dickson Plan, pupils at age 11 left primary school without sitting the 11-Plus, but having sat year-end tests used for streaming them when they moved to junior high schools for years 11-14.
At age 14, based on tests and streaming, they progressed either to senior 11-16 high schools for the lower streams or grammar schools for the higher-stream pupils. Research indicated that those in the lower streams underachieved.
In November 1998, the Department of Education commissioned Queen’s University Education Department to evaluate the Dickson Plan as an alternative to the 11-Plus. This research was led by none other than Professor Tony Gallagher.
It concluded the Dickson Plan was both too porous and small to provide a comparative position vis-a-vis the 11-Plus. In any event, the Dickson Plan was a selective one and completely different from the elective transfer at 14 proposed by Minister Ruane.
The minister’s proposal is that, at 11, each child would transfer to its nearest neighbourhood school whether a grammar or secondary modern. There would be no selection and each school’s intake would be ‘all ability’ as in the comprehensive system.
At age 14, the child’s parents would elect if it would remain at that school, or move to a school more suited to its abilities. The basis of assessment for such election remains unclear, but the consequences can be imagined.
For example, a child of modest ability from a middle-class suburban home goes to his or her nearest neighbourhood school which is a grammar. At age 14, its parents elect that it will remain there since it is close, discipline is good and they find it socially acceptable.
Their position is, in parental terms, understandable. In an inner-city secondary modern with an indifferent record, the parents of an exceedingly bright child from a public housing estate find it impossible to get a place in a school that will maximise its abilities due to ‘desk blocking’.
The problems that have plagued the comprehensive system will be repeated in Northern Ireland and upward social mobility from lower income group children will plummet. Money, postcode and coaching will replace merit and ability as the basis for selection.
The real objection to elective transfer at 14 is the fact that since every ‘neighbourhood’ school will have to take an unselected ‘all-ability intake’ it will become, by definition, a comprehensive school.
In effect, the grammar school system based on selected pupils will be permanently destroyed; hardly the material for an acceptable consensual compromise!
Over the years, I have been grateful to the Belfast Telegraph for publishing a series of detailed articles on various aspects of education. The contents of this article are, to a degree, critical of the Sit Down, Sort It Out campaign and the consensus principle upon which it moves. In these circumstances, and as United Kingdom Chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association, I offer my sincere thanks to the editor for permitting me to restore, in my view, a degree of balance to the debate.
Consensus is not in every circumstance possible for, as Winston Churchill once remarked, “Where is the point of compromise between the fireman and the arsonist”, or in the circumstances of this debate, between those who seek to preserve the demonstrably excellent and those who seek to destroy it.
In a poor attempt to convince parents of their effectiveness the DUP have misinterpreted the significance of a statement by Father Ignatius McQuillan recently published in the Irish News http://www.irishnews.com/articles/540/561/2009/7/20/622952_388069193305Exambanw.html
In a mandatory coalition executive dependent upon mutual cooperation to avoid collapse the DUP must be seen to be outdoing their Sinn Fein partners. As history has revealed the DUP’s effectiveness in tackling anyone with their own developed strategy is virtually non-existent. Sinn Fein’s destruction of grammar schools has been aided and abetted by token opposition and slick slogans.
While the conflicted anti-academic selection position of the Catholic Bishops in Northern Ireland has been sold to the media on social justice and moral grounds that is clearly not the disclosed position for Catholic schools in England where two very high profile campaigns to save Roman Catholic grammar schools have been initiated by headteachers and parents working together.
There is no evidence of ”growing opposition” to non-selective schooling. Such opposition has been constant since the first attempt to remove the 11-plus. If academic selection is to be ended it must be applied to non-Catholic schools at the same time as Catholic schools lest Catholic parents move their children to non-Catholic grammar schools. Unfortunately there won’t be enough room for all the applicants. Social selection will replace academic selection. Perhaps Mr Storey should consult his East Antrim MP friend Sammy Wilson about the parental pressure group STOP. This pressure group petitioned the Catholic bishops to restore the regulated “interim” CCEA test abandoned by Caitriona Ruane in February. The campaign resulted in a complete failure to change the minister’s and the bishops’ position yet not a meaningful cheep from the loud and vociferous MP.
Mr Wilson will know of Mr Storey’s involvement as a member of the Board of Governors at Ballymoney Model Primary School. Despite his senior position in the DUP and access to communication tools Mr Storey was unable to prevent a teacher led plot to convert the school to integrated status.
If Mervyn Storey, Sammy Wilson and the DUP had been fully involved in opposing Sinn Fein’s strategy to remove grammar schools they would have been aware that Ignatius McQuillan, like the late Monsenior Denis Faul, has always opposed the anti-11-plus, anti-grammar position of the hierarchy. Unfortunately the Catholic Church is not a democratic organisation and the power rests with the Irish Catholic bishops. The DUP were made aware of the loss of social mobility when grammar schools were removed in large portions of England but choose to keep silent on the issue. The DUP were made aware of the negative impact of the revised curriculum project inflicted on Shankill Road primary schools but stayed silent. Diane Dodds MEP was the DUP’s representative for the Shankill. The DUP were made aware of the potential disaster that ESA would bring under the former CCEA boss, Gavin Boyd, but predictably did nothing to prevent his rise to power.
Perhaps Mervyn Storey will now disclose the results of his meetings with Cardinal Brady and contrast the Cardinal’s position with that of the stated DUP position on the 11-plus and academic selection to grammar schools. Perhaps they are not too far apart?
May 29, 2009
PACE had warned parents about the DUP’s failure to expose the Education Minister’s blackmail attempt over unregulated tests.
Read the warning again in full.
May 29, 2009
In a desperate effort to achieve an end to academic selection primary school principals have called on grammar schools to abandon their unregulated entrance tests. Instead of pressuring the Minister, Caitriona Ruane, over her failure to provide regulated tests the teaching unions have picked upon their colleagues in the grammar sector. Of course a grammar school without academic selection is not a grammar school so the approach is doomed to failure.
Mr Harron of the INTO said the conference in Belfast was the beginning of a campaign to make sure voices of primary principals were heard.
The teaching unions practically live in Rathgael House at the Department of Education and parents are undoubtedly sick of hearing their anti selection views forced down the throats of parents via a compliant media.
School heads want tests abandoned
May 12, 2009
Letters like this must be difficult for the Minister of Education to read, given her failure to deliver a better solution to post-primary transfer.
Academic Selection and the NICCY
Ms S Ramsey asked the Minister of Education what correspondence she has received or meetings she has attended with the Children’s Commissioner in relation to academic selection. (AQO 2537/09)
I have met with the Children’s Commissioner on a number of occasions on various education issues, and the issue of post-primary transfer was discussed at a recent meeting on 19 February 2009. The issue has also been raised in correspondence with the Commissioner and I support her view that “selection of children at 11 does not work”.
Caitriona Ruane, Minister for Education
Much like Ms Lewsley’s attempts to outlaw parental discipline of their children didn’t work,costing the taxpayer about £200,000
May 7, 2009
Coleraine High School will use the Association of Quality Education’s CEA test as a device to take the school comprehensive.
Principal Anne Bell, instead of resigning her position as head of the all girls grammar, announced:
An all abilities intake was the best option for her school. Demographic trends in the area have not provided us with enough children to be purely academic. If you are only going to take children who achieve a certain grade in a test that would not be good for either of our schools
Irish News Thursday April 30, 2009
Perhaps Anne Bell should learn the distinction between a mark and a grade. PACE would welcome a response from any headteacher specifying the mark obtained in the 11-plus for a pupil awarded a C grade by CCEA.
This Chairman of the Association for Quality Education Sir Kenneth Bloomfield: “We in the AQE have always appreciated that we can call something a grammar school but if there’s no form of academic testing then there’s no grammar school at all”
One of the primary claims of concern over post-primary reform by the educationalists was that structures (schools) were not placed before the needs of pupils. Anne Bell represents the epitome of self serving platitude expressed in her attempt to disguise the announcement of the death of a grammar school.