September 11, 2009
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield has raised the prospect of a common entrance exam for grammar schools once again in an article in the Belfast Telegraph. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/education/post-primary-selection/work-on-single-entrance-exam-for-grammars-may-start-soon-14483850.html
His tendency to offer “jam tomorrow” promises to parents serves to avoid careful scrutiny of his group’s past failures. Sir Kenneth spends no time dwelling on his own contribution to the stress, confusion and lack of detail in bringing forward an esentially privatised 11-plus exam. His suspected real agenda was to bring forward a selection instrument that removed information but permitted the selection of “boys of character”, otherwise known as the Pupil Profile or more recently the Parents Annual Report. The AQE had sought membership from the Catholic grammars but have achieved not one Catholic school willing to use the AQE tests. The Church, well aware of the AQE plans, reacted to the prospect of losing pupils by offering their own “free” tests and have attracted others to their camp including Integrated schools that sell themselves as comprehensives. CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing) when it was proposed years ago was rejected outright by the Governing Bodies Association (GBA) an organisation of voluntary grammars for which Sir Ken has acted as spokesman. Now in the Belfast Telegraph Bloomfield talks of new advanced methods of assessing capability. He has simply poured his old wine into new bottles.
In the final paragraph Sir Keneth suggests;
” We, and no doubt others, will wish to give serious consideration to other and more advanced methods of assessing capability, progress and performance, drawing on modern technology.”
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Chair AQE Ltd
In response to an article in The Guardian
one of his grammar school colleagues, Pat O’Doherty of Lumen Christi Grammar School in Londonderry told the reporter;
“However, like all grammar schools in Northern Ireland, Lumen Christi would have preferred to avoid the use of an entrance test altogether, and had lobbied the minister for education to allow schools to use ongoing primary school assessments and pupil profiles for the purpose of academic selection, thus avoiding the need for an entrance examination.”
Once again the division within the grammar school lobby is exposed in its sectarian nature.
In correspondence with PACE Sir Kenneth Bloomfield borrowed a quotation from Clement Atlee, former British PM suggesting,
“A period of silence from you would be appreciated”
Perhaps Sir Kenneth Bloomfield was unfamiliar with the target of Atlee’s leaked comments. Ralph Milliband described Harold Laski, the subject of Atlee’s wrath, in Clare Market Review in 1950 thus,
We did not feel overwhelmed by his knowledge and learning, and we did not feel so because he did not know the meaning of condescension. We never felt compelled to agree with him, because it was so obvious that he loved a good fight and did not hide behind his years and experience. He was not impatient or bored or superciliously amused… His seminars taught tolerance, the willingness to listen although one disagreed, the values of ideas being confronted. And it was all immense fun, an exciting game that had meaning, and it was also a sieve of ideas, a gymnastics of the mind carried on with vigour and directed unobtrusively with superb craftsmanship.
I think I know now why he gave himself so freely. Partly it was because he was human and warm and that he was so interested in people. But mainly it was because he loved students, and he loved students because they were young. Because he had a glowing faith that youth was generous and alive, eager and enthusiastic and fresh. That by helping young people he was helping the future and bringing nearer that brave world in which he so passionately believed.
Bloomfield seems to want silence from parents, unless ,of course, they are represented by his private grammar school admission company. Good luck.
A litte information on Harold Laski.
In 1926 he was appointed professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics One of his more famous books is Reflections on the Revolution of Our Time (which was dedicated to Edward R. Murrow. He was active on the American United States university lecture circuit. His 19 year friendship with Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes