November 21, 2010
Examination results rise but standards fall. The New Labour legacy.
Northern Ireland has no OFSTED but an ETI, the Education and Training Inspectorate, who share the same office space in Rathgael House as the DENI Permanent Secretary. For the past decade they have had no league tables to hinder their “prizes for everyone” approach to the exams business.
It will be interesting to monitor CCEA’s approach to reforming the examination system given their ready adoption of the equivalent subject and qualification approach adopted by the British system. It fooled noone, particularly the universities and employers. Since education is a devolved matter in Northern Ireland there may be an expectation of an immediate decline in performance if the equivalencies are removed along with a renewed emphasis on grammar and punctuation in marking examinations.
November 14, 2010
It will hardly come as a surprise that the Northern Ireland Sinn Fein Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane has intensified her attack on parental choice and measurement of numeracy and literacy attainment while enveloped in evidence that such standards are continuing to fall short. Those politicians, like her, who persist in attacking grammar schools and parents who believe in their value are seriously out of touch with reality. Ruane clearly is attempting to bully parents into choosing her neighbourhood comprehensive school diktat despite having selecting a grammar school for her own child. The bully is becoming increasingly frustrated,seemingly as stubborn as the poor levels of numeracy and literacy accepted by her teachers and fellow politicians.
Since the Enriched and Revised Curriculum projects had their genesis in Northern Ireland it is striking that the N.I. Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) have missed an important opportunity to improve their public confidence level.
It has taken OFSTED, their equivalent in England, to raise public concern about the damaging effects of curricular changes.
Inspectors warned that the changes had prompted confusion in some schools.
A “common feature” of less successful schools was that teachers were “left to interpret the curriculum as they saw fit”, meaning it “lacked coherence”.
Some 24 out of 84 schools introduced “integrated courses” covering all humanities subjects. A similar approach was taken in the teaching of citizenships and PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education).
But Ofsted said inspectors “identified emerging problems with the courses”.
“These included the loss of subject content and subject skills development, lack of continuity from primary school, lack of rigour and challenge, uneven quality of teaching and artificial ‘links’ or themes”, said the report.
However in Northern Ireland evangelist educationalists who spend more time appearing on the media than in the classroom peddling claptrap suggest all is well.
Parents may disagree but there is no refund for a failed education.
Parents want tests, says Ofsted
Parents needed “some clarity” about how their children were doing before they started at secondary school, Christine Gilbert told a committee of MPs.
She also stressed the need for school report cards, being introduced by the government, to be clear and simple.
Giving evidence to the cross-party schools committee on Wednesday, Ms Gilbert said KS2 results marked the end of an important phase of education.
Perhaps Ms Gilbert should educate Caitriona Ruane on listening to parents, particularly on their feedback on the flawed Pupil Profiles. Meanwhile in her chaos ridden Department of Education in Northern Ireland testing of any type is denigrated by the ideological Minister of Education.