February 21, 2011
Notes from the AQE letter of February 3rd, 2011 to parents and guardians signed by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield.
To view the entire document click here AQE
The first point is that Sir Kenneth Bloomfield uses the term “robust” to describe the AQE system, a term he used on 1st September, 2008 while calling for locally-elected politicians to reach crucial decisions about the future of our education system. http://paceni.wordpress.com/2008/09/02/bloomfields-latest-tragedy-of-errors/
Bloomfield’s affinity for a Pupil Profile remains intact and has not been rejected by him.
“A pupil profile, if meaningful and reliable, could provide for parents and potential receiving schools a useful summary of a pupil’s performance in primary education and facilitate the informed matching of pupils to schools.”
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield of the GBA and AQE
On P2 of the letter Sir Kenneth announces detail of the AQE CEA re-mark scheme. Parents will recall that disadvantaged pupils (those on Free School Meals) did not pay the £35 fee for taking the tests. However, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, on behalf of AQE announced the imposition of a £10 charge for those on FSM for requesting a re-mark. It is understood that the motivation behind creating further disadvantage for those already disadvantaged was to prevent members of the local community from flooding the AQE office with requests for remarks.
So to be clear - the AQE proclaims equality of opportunity for the disadvantaged in applying for grammar school entrance tests but effectively removes it by denying them equality in seeking a re-mark. PaceNI blog readers will hardly need reminding that Sir Kenneth Bloomfield’s school, Inst refused FOI requests from PACE seeking disclosure of the number of bursaries provided to disadvantaged pupils at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The exemption claimed by Inst was on the groulnds of cost to provide the information. While some member schools in AQE make claims of their desire to assist and support disadvantaged pupils Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, chair of governors of only one of two category B schools, destroys such claims by imposing charges for “free” tests.
Ken Bloomfield then goes on to claim in his letter about the help and assistance that primary school principals will provide during interviews for completing the transfer forms. Perhaps he should have read his own document,The Statistics from the Questionnaires of January 2011 which clearly indicate that only 67% of primary schools provided information on the AQE tests. Even those of limited mathematical ability can covert that figure to a fraction. One in three primary schools, led by principals, refused parents the information on the transfer tests. How can Bloomfield suggest with any expectation of credibility, that parents trust primary school principals to ” assist you in the application process”. Sir Kenneth Bloomfield clearly wants to attract attention to himself and his incoherent agenda. His signature on the letter to parents on behalf of AQE juxtaposes sharply with all the work diligently carried out by William Young, former headmaster at BRA, the CEO at AQE Ltd. Unfortuantely it seems that Bloomfield is determined to destroy AQE from within. How else can one explain the gross ineptitude found within his letter to parents. Specal circumstances, special provision and special cases are highlighted by Bloomfield as a basis for parents who feel that the mark obtained after three tests does not reflect their child’s “true ability” to challenge the result.
Bloomfield suggests that parents might wish to obtain comparative educational evidence from the primary school (including the third of schools who provided no information on the AQE CEA tests). Did he stop to consider that this is instantly recognised as another effort on his part to push for the Pupil Profile. After all, if equivalent information on attainment exists in the primary school what is the point of testing for grammar schools? That question will confuse and confound the 21% of parents from the middle classes who entered their children for entrance tests while claiming they are also against academic selection.
“AQE believes strongly that Northern Ireland is blessed with excellent schools, Primary, Grammar and secondary, and is confident that, in whatever school your son or daughter is enrolled in September 2011, he or she will have an educational experience of high quality.”
Perhaps he was regressing and thought he was writing a letter in his former role as head of the N.I. Civil Service seeking to deliver everyone in an equality of result outcome.
February 18, 2011
September 21, 2010
“The AQE has never been in the business of forcing anyone to do anything they do not want. If any individual grammar school wants to drop selection, that is up to them.”
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Chairman of the Association for Quality Education
Exactly what business is the AQE involved in? The AQE’s recent spending of money, obtained from grammar school entrance tests, on advertisements instead of providing statements and interviews from headmasters and teachers with their local newspapers smacks of misguided influences.
Are schools such as Portora Royal, Strathern and Methodist College ready to abandon academic selection?
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.
September 25, 2009
The Chairman of the Association of Quality Education (AQE) Sir Kenneth Bloomfield has been appointed to an ‘academic brain trust’ to help with the complex policy choices the country is facing. Given the uncertainty and virtual chaos surrounding the economy and particularly the transfer to post-primary education system this may seem appropriate. It may surprise readers to learn that the country in question is the Republic of Ireland not Northern Ireland.
The president of the Royal Irish Academy, Prof Nicholas Canny said Ireland was lagging behind other developed countries which were following the example of Franklin D Roosevelt, who chose a “brain trust” of professors to help him solve the problems created by the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“Academics should feature more prominently as opinion leaders and architects of recovery in our society, since they are the ultimate source of new knowledge and innovation,”
PACE are just waiting for the appointment of Professor Tony Gallagher of QUB to this august body to ensure a prolonged depression where the education system is concerned.
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield has yet to express his views on the Belfast Telegraph campaign to ‘Sort Out’ the mess in Northern Ireland’s education debacle , his purported area of expertise. Perhaps he is too busy counting the profits earned by AQE since their introduction of aState deregulated private grammar school entrance test.
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
September 6, 2009
The Minister for Education’s confirmation last week that entry to grammar school will only be on the basis of an academic test raises renewed questions about the continued use of the CCEA Pupil Profile.
The Pupil Profile became the favoured solution to the 11-plus conundrum for a number of education ministers, political parties and teachers unions. The Association of Quality Education’s heroic leader, Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, former defender of Victims throughout Northern Ireland and more significantly former Head of the Civil Service wrote articles in the Belfast Telegraph extoling its value. Robust and valid were the frequent adjectives most inappropriately employed by the sanguine wordsmith.
Now that AQE has secured a private entrance exam to its publicly funded grammar schools no further mention has been made over the mixed messages on the Pupil Profile.
For Concerned Parents for Education, one of the front organisations created to provide multiple roles for headmasters and teachers a problem arises. Are they still supportive of the Pupil Profile as their preferred solution for entry into grammar schools, as were the Direct Rule ministers , Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Roy Lilley, Marcus Patterson and Billy Young of Belfast Royal Academy or have they been suckered by these same individuals into having the views of parents misrepresented by selfish, hypocritical double speaking people only interested in making a private business out of taxpayer funded grammar schools?
Since Concerned Parents for Education (CPE) told the BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4325025.stm that they want the pupil profile to be used for academic selection and CPE are a constituent part of AQE, parents must now see that AQE does not even have the ability to hide its true agenda. That agenda is to have the DENI fund private testing for profit to gain entry to grammar schools. Billy Young’s weak interview on BBC Radio Ulster’s morning show in which he thanked the minister for her free publicly funded advertising of his company’s arrangements is a fair example.
May 5, 2009
While the chaos and confusion continues on the thorny matter of testing for entry to grammar schools, parents may want to remind themselves of Sir Kenneth Bloomfield’s favoured option for selecting buys for the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.
February 19, 2009
The descent into chaos for the Northern Ireland education system continues to plumb new depths. Many parents and their children are feeling the effects of the bends as they are dragged recklessly from regulation to deregulation and back again towards regulation.
If parents are considering which test is offered by their school of choice then the answer may be one, the other or both!
The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education have issued warnings on the educationalists’ plans for many years but understandably most have chosen to rely upon school representatives for guidance and information at a local level.. Such loyalty has been sadly misplaced evidenced by the increasingly inconsistent incoherent and erroneous information passed on by principals, teachers and spokespeople for various “Associations”
In December 2007, the Royal Belfast Academical Institution (Inst) was challenged on their polite platitudes towards socially disadvantaged local boys. The school refused to provide detailed answers. In addition their contradictory simultaneous support for the AQE test of numeracy and literacy and the CCEA Pupil Profile was laid at the foot of Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Chairman of Governors. Again no clear response was provided. Bloomfield is a jockey out of many stables.
Recently Ballymena Academy published admission policy and aptitude test information for prospective pupils. This contingency plan for their “aptitude testing” would be implemented only in the event of an ‘unregulated’ transfer procedure – a hint of a possible move back towards regulation. The sample test items are clearly of the verbal reasoning type although the school do not indicate who provided their “contingency test” or who the chief examiner is. The guidance suggests should an acceptable alternative procedure gain the necessary support within the Northern Ireland Assembly, Ballymena Academy will comply with that procedure, their plan will not be implemented and parents will be advised accordingly.
Perhaps the Ballymena “contingency test” is similar to that of the Catholic grammar Lumen Christi. One can only wonder at why 69 schools could not agree a testing approach based on numeracy and literacy.
The most grotesque example of incoherence comes from Victoria College, the Belfast all girls grammar school in East Belfast. In the pages of the Irish News the principal, Patricia Slevin, announced:
“ pupils will gain entry to the college on the basis of their results in either of the tests which are being provided respectively by AQE and NFER”
Perhaps Ms Slevin should make contact with the examining bodies for advice on how to equate the two tests. Did the board of governors of Victoria College actually consider the problem before offering the criteria to prospective pupils.
Why have non-denominational grammar schools eschewed tests of numeracy and literacy in favour of a discredited obsolete verbal reasoning test?
Parents are entitled to have answers. Just don’t ask Sir Ken.