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.
While Northern Ireland Education Minister, John O’Dowd pushes forward with his undemocratic removal of grammar schools by denying parents choice, the opposite is happening in England. Nick Gibb has called for the expansion of grammar school places. His support for the aims of the National Grammar Schools Association is to be welcomed. There can be little wonder about O’Dowd’s reluctance to admit the failures of comprehensive education available across the Irish Sea. Forty- plus years of evidence is inconvenient for Sinn Fein. Today’s Daily Express highlights an expansion of grammar school places as a good move.
Read the full story here: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/254638/Grammar-school-comment
A further article appeared in the DailyExpress http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/254638/Grammar-school-comment
and in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8592624/Grammar-schools-should-be-allowed-to-expand-says-Gibb.html
July 17, 2010
Tracey Crouch MP, Member of Parliament for Chatham & Aylesford, who once worked for grammar school advocate and supporter Michael Howard, http://www.kentonline.co.uk/kentonline/newsarchive.aspx?articleid=15410 recently attracted attention in the KentOnLine paper when her question to the Education Minister, Nick Gibb during a debate on July 12th, 2010 was highlighted.
The Minister of State, Department for Education (Mr Nick Gibb): Ninety-five expressions of interest in academy status have been received from schools in Kent, and nine expressions of interest have been received from schools in Medway.
Tracey Crouch: I thank the Minister for his reply, and I am sure that he will be reassured to hear that many of the head teachers I have spoken to are genuinely very enthusiastic about the programme. The Minister will be aware that many of the schools in Kent and Medway that have expressed an interest are grammar schools. Can he assure the House that if they were to become academies they would retain their selective status?
Mr Gibb was attempting to give reassurance to those concerned that grammar schools which had applied to become Academies would no longer be permitted to use academic selection to determine admission. This issue had been previously raised by the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA) after careful scrutiny of the current legal position. Over ninety grammar school heads have made initial applications to become Academies without properly consulting and gaining the consent of the governors and parents of their schools. Once an Academy changes can be made without consultation with parents.
However Tracey Crouch, the former Aviva PR girl, seems to have neglected to mention, some might suggest purged, an important detail out of her profile as an M.P. http://www.traceycrouch.org/about-candidate and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tracey_Crouch
Tracey Crouch attended Folkestone Grammar School. The question must be put – When Tracey Crouch spoke with the heads and was told of their intention to apply for Academy status was she unaware of the implications for the future of grammar schools? It seems that a grammar school education is now an inconvenient fact in David Cameron’s PR wonk ridden government.
June 25, 2010
The National Grammar Schools, http://www.ngsa.org.uk have issued an urgent warning about the government’s attempt rush to schools into applying for academy status.
The Press Association picked up on the detail and now the mainstream media have joined in.
Parents should contact the NGSA or the Board of Governors of their grammar school rather than depend upon headteachers who may have conflicted interests.
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.
The Sinn Fein and PUP anti-academic selection position criticised by National Grammar Schools Association
November 14, 2009
The ideological positions of republican and unionist political parties in Northern Ireland on academic selection and grammar schools has been dissected by the chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association, Robert McCartney QC during an interview on the BBC Daily Politics Show. (at about 14 mins in)
The interview and discussion on the Northern Ireland selective system was broadcast on the day prior to the first unregulated 11-plus transfer tests. It pitted the Education Minister’s pointman Sinn Fein’s John O’Dowd against Robert McCartney QC former MP and MLA, since retired from politics. Mr McCartney is the current chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association http://ngsa.org.uk Mr McCartney highlighted the absurdity of those paramilitary groups with links to political parties such as Sinn Fein and the IRA and the Progressive Unionist Pary and the UVF, both of whom wreaked havoc, terrorised and murdered the parents of primary school pupils. Mr McCartney pointed out that their political leaders now claim to be looking after the interests of socio-economically deprived children by abolishing grammar schools and academic selection. The NGSA leader suggested to BBC viewers that this claim is the ultimate ironic claim from terrorists.
August 4, 2009
While various organisations in Northern Ireland such as The Governing Bodies Association (GBA) and The Association for Quality Education (AQE) have claimed to represent parental views on the issue of academic selection and grammar schools their sister grouping in England have been “outed” by The National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA) http://www.ngsa.org.uk
The NGSA was formed in the 1970s. It is a non-political, not-for-profit organisation supported by parents, school governors, heads, teachers, educationists and others, all concerned with the retention and promotion of the UK’s grammar schools as a valuable choice for parents.
Interestingly almost all of the 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland declined an invitation to join this influential body when members of the NGSA co-hosted a symposium at Stormont a number of years ago and extended invitations to show strength in numbers. Perhaps local principals were already aware of the plans to destroy grammar schools in Northern Ireland and were cooperating fully with the DENI on implementing the rationalisation and comprehensive model. The roles of the former head of Methodist College, Belfast Wilfred Mulryne, Inst’s first female head, Janet Williamson, Ballymena Academy principal, Ronnie Hazzard and Neill Morton of Portora Royal School in Enniskillen are worthy of examination and critical review.
Read the quote from Shaun Fenton , Head of the successful and popular Pates Grammar School to understand that principals may have conflicted positions and say one thing to government while posing a very opposite position to parents and governors.
(Times Educational Supplement, 3 July 2009, p10)
“Before its official launch, the new Grammar Schools Heads Association(exclusive only to heads) had already been working with the Sutton Trust and holding meetings with the Department for Children, Schools and Families… Mr Shaun Fenton , Head of Pates Grammar School said the launch of the association was not timed with an eye on a general election within the next year. He said it would not be campaigning to save schools, such as St Bernard’s Catholic Grammar in Slough, Berkshire, that are slated for closure. ‘We support grammar schools as part of a diverse provision of education’, Mr Fenton said. ‘But if it works locally for a grammar school to become an academy [which must be comprehensive], that is a decision to be made locally. Gradual evolution is fine.’”
October 10, 2008
A story in today’s Daily Mail may be a sign of things to come for Northern Ireland Grammar Schools.
Competition appears to have intensified during the credit crunch as parents shun private schools in favour of cheaper alternatives.
Research published by the Good Schools Guide shows that applications at almost one in five private schools have tumbled by 10 per cent in four years. The main winners appear to be academically selective schools such as Wallington County Grammar, which dominate league tables without demanding fees.
Robert McCartney QC, chairman of the National Grammar Schools Association, said that
applications across the country have risen in a ‘record year’. In Kent alone, the number of children applying has risen from just over 9,000 to 11,000.
‘Because of the poor state of the comprehensive system, they are desperate to get their children into grammar schools.’
With the current state of affairs in the Northern Ireland education system the remaining grammar schools can look forward to similar popularity so long as their admission procedures include the 11-plus equivalent
A prominent Northern Ireland QC has sent an Open Letter to Conservative |Party leader David Cameron on behalf of the National Grammar Schools Association (NGSA)
Read the letter here.
The letter was sent prior to the Conservative Party Confernce in Birmingham. It is remarkable that so little has been reported from Northern Ireland MLAs and MPs given that many attended the Conservative Conference and hosted fringe meetings.
Has the cat got their collective tongue or are deals underway to guarantee the destruction of Northern Ireland’s academic selection system and with it grammar schools via the Tories and their Unionist friends?
Parents must decide if the failed position of political and church leaders will be allowed to destroy their child’s right to a suitable education.