Parents win in battle to provide more selective school places.
Kent County Council overwhelmingly backed a 2,600-plus name petition demanding a boost in grammar school places in Sevenoaks to meet high demand.
Perhaps John O’Dowd and other “educational experts” in Northern Ireland need reminding of the Martin McGuinness instigated Department of Education Household Survey of 2002 in which the majority of respondents told the Sinn Fein DENI Minister that they wished to retain the 11-plus and academic selection.
The difference in the two campaigns is the fact that 200,551 respondents took part in the Household Survey and yet John O’Dowd persists in his bullying campaign to try to eradicate grammar schools.
Northern Ireland still has a very popular 11-plus testing system – the good news is that it is out of Minister O’Dowd’s reach.
March 9, 2012
Absent a willingness or ability of the Detail.tv and the Belfast Telegraph to address the DENI data on pupil performance at GCSE and A-Level, Paceni offers a warning to the DENI and some reassurance to parents.
League tables and their limitations in the comparison of institutional performance such as schools is not a new issue. http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2983325?uid=3738032&uid=2134&uid=372782467&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=3&uid=60&uid=372782457&sid=47698738446577
Martin McGuinness banned such tables when he was Education Minister in the 1990s but his party colleague John O’Dowd has reintroduced them via the media to persist in the attack on academic selection and grammar schools. However no reference has been made by any education correspondent to an important paper published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society in 1996.
John O’Dowd and the DENI have a statistics and research branch http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/32-statisticsandresearch_pg.htm but it would seem that they ignore warnings provided by those who cautioned against the inappropriate use of data to compare schools. The reason is quite clear. Mr O’Dowd is stepping up his attack on grammar schools for political and ideological purposes. Unfortunately other political representatives are colluding with O’Dowd in order to panic and decieve parents. If the DENI have a response to Harvey Goldstein and david Spiegelhalter the world would be delighted to examine it.
In 1999 during the euphoria following the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland the then Education Minister, now deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness banned the publication of school performance or league tables. The TES http://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=348747 published an article calling for a similar action in Wales. Fast forward a decade.
Research published this week http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-11669714 on the effect of such an action in Wales, another UK devolved jurisdiction, showed the effects of simplistic ideological imposition versus application of sound scientific evidence.
McGuinness and his party were wrong in 1999 they remain in error and denial today. Children from disadvantaged areas throughout Northern Ireland have suffered enough at the hands of so-called “reformed” terrorists. To deprive them and their parents of information on the effectiveness of their teachers is despicable. McGuinness’ replacement in the Department of Education, Caitriona Ruane has adopted the same Marxist ideology of imposing equality of outcome in her failed attempt to end academic selection. She has also failed miserably to improve numeracy and literacy results for the disadvantaged while ignoring and delaying the publication of evidence that public opinion did not support her policy.
Ruane was a prominent member of the Bring Them Home campaign for the Colombia Three, which sought the safe return of three Irishmen later convicted in their absence in Colombia of training Marxist rebels.
Parents should insist that politicians re-introduce performance/league tables in Northern Ireland as a priority. The naming and shaming exercise has already been highlighted in this blog when the Los Angeles Times published information on teachers performance despite threats from the teaching unions and a threat of boycott.
Ruane might want to head up another crusade – The “Bring Them Back” campaign – for school performance tables. Don’t hold your breath.
December 1, 2008
Since Martin McGuinness claimed on Inside Politics that selection at 14 was the consensus position the BBC were quick to add their seal of approval.
Interestingly they provide no evidence on what they base this “consensus”. For a cabal of “educationalists” and civic society to use a compliant media to misrepresent the parental view is nothing short of bias on the part of the BBC.
It is likely that the Belfast Telegraph will conduct a poll and the replies (probably already in preparation) will be used to suggest that selection at 14 is the answer to the “deregulated” system causing such a headache for those who cannot come up with an agreed legal system for transfer at 11. Kathryn Torney, education correspondent, has already suggested that the DUP should agree a shift away from their St Andrews Agreement position. It remains to see if the DUP are the willing lapdogs of the media.
Perhaps they will grow teeth under Peter “Neville” Robinson and tell Sinn Fein, churches and the “educationalists” that “it’s your mess – you clean it up”
December 1, 2008
In an interview with Mark Devenport on BBC Inside Politics Martin McGuinness added his latest “prediction” on the question of post-primary transfer.
“In my view there is a growing consensus about the age of 14 for transfer” said the man who asked a series of questions on post-primary transfer in 2002 to which he received answers OPPOSITE to his predictions.
Of course he ignored those responses from parents.
Listen to his latest effort at about 12 mins 20 sec in. The DUP have yet to make it clear that they will not be moved to selection at 14 despite the embarrassment caused by revelation of a document exposing their confused position by Jim Allister MEP
When asked, Martin McGuinness refused to comment on the Jim Allister paper because he claimed he hadn’t seen the document. No doubt arrangements could be made for Martin McGuinness to see the document admitted by his party colleague John O’Dowd that Sinn Fein have had sight of.
November 24, 2008
The Guardian covered the Burns Report and Household Survey back in 2002.
Here are some comments from an article from Will Greenwood
Recognising that no assessment procedure is ever 100% satisfactory, Stevenson (former Sullivan head) believes that the 11-plus, “with adequate safeguards”, is a decent system.
“There are things wrong with the Northern Ireland education set-up which need to be considered, but I am not in the least convinced that the Burns report has all the answers. In fact, I am deeply concerned that we are doing away with some of the good things in the education system and not replacing them with anything worthwhile at all… at the moment we seems to be involved in a huge rush to end academic selection and destroy grammar schools.”
Arbuthnot (Priory in Holywood) went to grammar school, sent two of his children to a grammar school, and wants to see selection abolished. Stevenson failed his 11-plus and wants to retain it. Last week he was signed up to support the Daily Mirror’s “Save Our Grammar Schools” campaign, (where did that one go?) bringing in such unlikely Mirror writers as Chris Woodhead, the former chief inspector of schools in England.
“The transfer test is not a fool-proof system and it is not the end of the world if pupils fail it. But it can feel like the end of the world when it is over dramatised the way it has been by some people,” Stevenson told the Mirror.
But McGuinness is the 11-plus failure who matters most in all this, and he says the debate about the Burns report has been “tremendous”.
“I think the success of it lies in the fact that there was an expectation among many people previously that to have a debate on this issue would be highly acrimonious and contentious,” he told the Guardian. “I have to say I’m very pleased that we’ve had a very high quality debate that’s going to continue over the next number of weeks and months.
“We haven’t made our minds up, we haven’t made any decision whatsoever about how we’re moving forward because we want this to be a real consultation, a real opportunity for people to have their say and know that they’ve been listened to. Even on the initial responses I’m getting, people are saying to me, ‘this is one of the few times we’ve been asked our opinion on anything’… I wanted there to be a real sense within the community that we haven’t got our minds made up.”
Except that the final conclusion is bound to be that the 11-plus is scrapped, for the Sinn Fein number two is a long-standing, vocal opponent of it. “When I came into this job at the very beginning some of my old acquaintances said ‘don’t even think about doing anything about the 11-plus because it won’t work’, and here we are two years on and I haven’t heard anybody defending it,” he says.