November 29, 2009
The Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson, has proposed a change to the decision making process of the Stormont Executive.
When applied to the blocked decision of the Education Minister to end academic selection the consequences of Robinson’s folly become apparent. Three parties represented in the current Executive, Sinn Fein, the SDLP and the Ulster Unionist/Conservative are all opposed to academic selection at 11. If Policing and Justice were devolved it would mean the Alliance Party would join the Executive and add their anti-academic selection position to the mix. Mr Robinson’s DUP could loudly claim that the ending of academic selection at 11 was not their fault and that the decision was a positive example of the ending of “party political point-scoring over good government”.
“I am concerned that the failure of the Executive to take certain decisions is taking a toll on the Executive’s credibility with the public.”
Peter Robinson, Northern Ireland First Minister and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party.
Mr Robinson’s use of irony is matched only by the Education Minister’s claims to value equality. Both have now adopted the equality of result or outcome model. A Marxist system which typifies the DUP -Sinn Fein coalition. It is little wonder that parents and pupils have fallen victim to the political mismanagement of the mandatory coalition in order to preserve the greedy self-interests of a failed political system.
No GCSE English or Maths required: the Northern Ireland Education Minister’s slide towards Entitlement
November 17, 2009
Northern Ireland Assembly
Monday 16 November 2009
Together Towards Entitlement
I have quoted many statistics in this House in the past, but I remind Members that, two years ago, 12,000 people left our schools without a GCSE in English or maths. That is a very high number; it represented 47% of school leavers. We need to take a good, hard look at the policies that the Department brings forward because they are already making a difference and will continue to do so. Focusing on underachievement will bring about changes in our system and will create equality and academic excellence for all.
The policy of the DENI which does not require pupils to take GCSEs in English/Irish or Mathematics should be the first thing that Minister Ruane and her Permanent Secretary, William Haire should look at. Concurrently the entire Assembly should ask themselves what sort of education entitlement allows pupils to avoid measurement of their numeracy and literacy skills.
AQE and QUB Professor Tony Gallagher blame politicians for educationalists’ failure on 11-plus solutions
November 16, 2009
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield and Professor Tony Gallagher were interviewed on BBC Good Morning Ulster after the first of the five unregulated tests to determine entry into grammar school in Northern Ireland.
What they failed to admit during the interview were a number of important points for parents.
The AQE developed their CEA tests and offered them as a common exam for all grammar schools. This was rejected by the Catholic Voluntary grammar schools who set up an arrangement with GL Assessment thereby creating the necessity for pupils to take up to five tests.
- Sir Kenneth Bloomfield’s school, Inst, is a member of the Governing Bodies Association, an organisation claiming to be the representative body for all voluntary grammar schools. Sir Kenneth Bloomfield has been a spokesperson for the GBA on many occasions. Yet GBA schools operate two separate exam systems. Parents will naturally wonder which of the two testing systems is better since they cannot be the same.
- Sir Kenneth told BBC listeners that negotiations were ongoing to agree one common test for next year. He neglected to inform listeners that members of the GBA were split deliberately in order that two tests were imposed upon the very pupils that AQE and GBA claim to be concerned about.
- Tony Gallagher cited his concern over those not entered for the entrance exams. For someone charged with responsibility for the School of Education at Queen’s University perhaps he should have considered the possibility that their parents were actually content with the choice for a secondary school. PACE have previously highlighted Professor Gallagher’s contradictory position on academic selection and in particular (s)election at 14, the latest phase in the plan to impose comprehensive schools in Northern Ireland.
- Tony Gallagher once again attempted to blame politicians for their failure to implement his advice to government. Perhaps the politicians should use their powers to examine Professor Gallagher to the same level of scrutiny as the unregulated tests given his anti-selection background and contradictory advice.
“Let us adopt a can-do attitude. I have grave concerns
about the way in which we govern ourselves. There is
no point in my trying to blame other Ministers. If we
are to have an Assembly, we need to take collective
responsibility. Often, we do not adopt a can-do attitude when trying to move forward on these matters.”
The Chairperson of the Committee for Education (Mr Storey) Monday 15 June 2009 Executive Committee Business:
Is Mr Storey suggesting that we may soon not have an Assembly? Is he pre-announcing further concessions on education? Is he exhibiting the DUP’s practiced pattern of making many promises to the electorate but failing to deliver?
So how did we end up where we are today? Why did it happen that Education did become one of then main areas of struggle?
Well the answer is simple …. Caitriona Ruane…..
Or Minister RUIN Rather than Ruane !!!
I once said she was grossly incompetent – that means 144 times worse than the routinely incompetent. When it comes to education matters Caitriona Ruane is about as confused as Adam was on Mothers day and is about as much use as a trap door on a canoe!
Although to be fair she didn’t nominate herself.
No! She was Gerry Adams first pick. ….
Out of all of the Sinn Fein talent on display … better than Paul Butler … better than Sue Ramsey…. better than Jennifer McCann… better than her namesake Fra McCann… better even than Barry McElduff!
Caitriona Ruane was Gerry’s golden girl.
This, remember is the Minister who couldn’t get involved with the classroom assistants dispute and who couldn’t get involved in the Movilla school dispute. Who told us when she was dragged to the Assembly to answer a priority question, about the school dispute she said, we are where we are !!!
This is the Minister who cannot find time to answer Assembly questions in the stipulated time.
But she will spend months banging her head off the brick wall of the legal guarantees this party negotiated at St Andrews.
In doing so she allowed a situation to develop where other important matters have been overshadowed by her futile approach to the transfer debate.
The Minister’s failures meant that the rest of us have had to do the job she ought to have been doing, but couldn’t find the time.
Conference we will be launching a new document highlighting many of the areas in education that we are determined to improve.
The DUP is in favour of excellence. Excellence for all schools delivered to all pupils.
On the matter of transfer we have met with a wide range of stakeholders and will be doing so again in the coming days.
I will be meeting the Catholic bishops, which will be more an experience for them than me.
Doesn’t it say something about this education Minister that the Catholic Headmasters are closer to our position than they are to hers.
Parents are distraught at her failure and behaviour. Teachers are frustrated. Children are stressed.
It appears that for the Minister the future education of the Province’s children is less a priority than Policing and Justice Powers.
It appears that she prefers to bury her head in the sand and take no responsibility for the chaos and mess she has presided over.
It appears that she prefers confrontation to agreement.
It appears that this Minister would prefer an unregulated transfer system to one agreed between her and the other political parties.
Conference – that is not my way or the DUP’s way.
We have acted differently from this missing Minister – this Minister for mayhem.
We didn’t just simply pocket the guarantees won at St Andrews. We have got involved and got our hands dirty.
Where the Minister sat on her backside and failed to behave as a minister and to do her job, I along with my colleagues got up, got down to work.
We have shown that it is not the few but all the children for whom we want the best possible education provision. We will continue with that goal in mind.
It ought to be a cause of shame, though I doubt their ability to feel it, for Caitriona Ruane and her Party, and it is a source of gratitude for us that as a consequence of that, people today look to this party for action and answers rather than the person whose job it actually is.
Conference it is my intention to continue with that.”
Conference 08 – Mervyn Storey MLA
Until Monday 15th June that is!
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
See will simply declare it so.
Mr A McQuillan (AQW 7094/09) asked the Minister of Education if she can give assurances that the Education and Skills Authority will not interfere with the running of successful schools.
Caitriona Ruane, Minister of Education:
The Education Bill will provide a new administrative structure to support the raising of standards in all schools. It is my intention that the Education and Skills Authority (the ESA) will assist schools in achieving significant improvement in the achievements of all pupils. The arrangements being established will see local area support teams working with schools, reflecting the individual needs of each school. It would not be appropriate to characterise this relationship as one of interfering.
I will also ensure that my policy of Every School a Good School will mean that all schools will be seen as successful.
Parents will feel so much better knowing that Caitriona and the ETI refuse to name any failing schools. The hugh number of pupils leaving second level education without qualifications in numeracy and literacy is either of no concern to the Minister or she is talking more nonsense. The fact that English and Maths are no longer compulsory subjects at GCSE makes her promise to improve results impossible to measure. If this lack of willingness to be measured seems familiar then her vitriolic attack on the unregulated tests in numeracy and literacy put her real objective into perspective; the destruction of grammar schools.
March 22, 2009
on Wednesday March 18th was an important event in the passage of the Education and Skills Bill through the political arena.
Cardinal Brady and the Bishop Donal McKeown led Catholic Commission have stepped on to the big stage on the education issue by citing in their evidence to the Northern Ireland Assembly Education Committee nothing less than the European Convention on Human Rights.
The First Protocol (1952) to the European Convention on Human Rights includes the right to education (article 2):
No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.
Implementation of the Convention is ensured through cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights.
Now the Cardinal wishes the Education Committee to respect the rights of the Catholic Church during consideration of the ESA bill on religious belief grounds, including estate and employment matters, while at the same time ignoring the rights of parents with respect to their philosophical convictions on the matter of academic selection and grammar schools.
Cardinal Brady’s Church has declared academic selection “immoral”.
It may be helpful to revisit a PACE commentary on the Catholic Church’s selective position on social justice from early 2008
March 10, 2009
The Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane, continued with her ideological agenda today by refusing to reintroduce the CCEA test she commissioned and abandoned at great taxpayer expense.
The BBC story http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/7934973.stm tells of Ruane’s refusal to return to a regulated system of transfer based upon attainment in numeracy and literacy.
As ever the ex-professional tennis player returned the concerns of P6 parents with a volley of snide shots including one that placed the blame on unnamed schools.
She had denied threatening schools but said a small number were “blocking change”.
So Caitriona Ruane is against unregulated tests and against regulated tests. She is also clearly against parental wishes for their children
January 22, 2009
Not only has Caitriona Ruane failed to deliver on promises to end academic selection for grammar schools but it seems that the minister has failed on basic numeracy attainments. In the Hansard record of the Northern Ireland Assembly of Monday 19th January the minister answered a question on the cost of the failed pupil profile project. She claimed the total cost to be £180,000
Mr Gallagher: In the Minister’s response to an
earlier supplementary question, she referred to a money
shortage in the Department. Recently, she announced
the end of the pupil-profile initiative. Surely when she
took that decision, she calculated how much money
her Department had spent on the initiative. Will she
tell the Assembly how much money the pupil-profile
initiative has cost her Department?
The Minister of Education: there is a presumption
in the question that the Department has wasted money.
No money has been wasted. the approach to annual
reporting to parents has not changed significantly.
In 2007-08, 2008-09 and the current financial year
to date, the cost of training and support of teachers on
reporting to parents via a standardised pupil-profile
format has been £180,000. I am sure that all Members
understand the importance of reporting to parents,
which was emphasised during all the pilots and
consultations that were carried out. Are Members
suggesting that teachers should not report to parents?
the Department has listened to educationalists and
parents. It has decided that instead of “pupil profiles”,
they will now be called “annual reports to parents”.
PACE had sought information from CCEA, the organisation responsible for the Pupil Profile, on costs in a Freedom of Information request. The information does not match the Education Minister’s statement to the Assembly.
Only one party can be correct. The Minister of Education or one of the constituent organisations of the new Education and Skills Authority (ESA).
Even with generous rounding of Caitriona Ruane’s figure up to £200,000 that leaves £1,800,000 unaccounted for.
Click link to see CCEA FOI figures CCEA FOI Figures for Pupil Profile
Now add up the figures and get £180,000. That’s the revised curriculum in action.
January 1, 2009
Sammy Wilson abandoned the position of Chairman of the Northern Ireland Education Committee in his haste to take on the role of Minister of the Environment in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Perhaps Mr Wilson had learned that his party, the DUP, had traded away the retention of academic selection and grammar schools in horse trading with Sinn Fein and didn’t want to be around to face the voter’s wrath when the concession was revealed.
Now Mr Wilson has demonstrated the depths of his incompetence in his attitude to scientific evidence on global warming. Inconvenient facts are ignored. He seems to listen to the voice in his head to establish facts rather than the experts.
Given the state of the world’s economic health one can only wonder what Mr Wilson’s teaching would have been on the sub-prime housing situation, the banking fiasco and fuel markets. Since he was also Chief Examiner for CCEA none of these issues mattered since he set the questions and therefore had all the answers.