If there was ever a need to answer the persistently wrong and ideologically failed attack on academic selection by 11-plus testing carried out by the DENI, an answer to an Assembly Question by a Sinn Fein MLA gives a resounding response.
|AQW 6202/11-15||Mr Daithí McKay
(SF – North Antrim)
It is little wonder that there were no press releases, planted media articles or angst-filled human interest stories obediently spewed up using words and phrases such as child abuse, stress-laden, difficult, morally wrong, scandalous. The DENI have known since the Household Survey of 2002 that the majority of parents want valid and reliable transfer testing at 11. Their miserable decade long campaign has resulted in failure but the DENI promote failure by denying the taxpayers their right to regulated testing and then object to and hamper those who suceed in doing their work for them. If an example of promoting failure is required then linking the ending of regulated transfer tests to the promotion of the multi-jobbing ESA Chief Execuive may be a good place to start.
Also note that there has been no effort by the unionist parties to highlight the response to AQW 6202/ 11-15. This may be explained by their secret desire to see the issue of transfer testing disappear or perhaps they don’t read answers that don’t refer to themselves.
One written complaint was received by the Western Education and Library Board in the last three years in relation to a primary school in that area preparing its pupils for unregulated transfer tests. No written complaints were received by any of the other boards during that period and records are not kept of any verbal complaints.
The timing of this story (found only on the UTV internet site) is typical of the multiple cynical attempts to manipulate and stress parents by those opposed to academic selection. Did it really take a year to discover what many insiders knew last year about the validity and reliability of the GL Assessment Tests commissioned by the PPTC?
PACE has highlighted the lack of a specification for the GL Assessment test. Perhaps Mr Ronnie Hazzard of the PPTC will rush to deny this assertion by his friends in the Catholic Principals group?
AQE and GL Assessment tests and the GBA: Information for parents
While decisions over admission to grammar schools from last years tests have yet to be announced, the secrecy surrounded a group claiming to represent grammar schools (Parents – have you ever heard of or from them?) are busy making sure this year will be just as perplexing.
The BBC has carried accounts about the development of “one test” and allowed an expectation to flourish that such an outcome is possible. However the BBC have failed to differentiate between a single set of tests (a combining of those schools using AQE and GL as the test provider) and one exam instead of two or three.The facts and history prove otherwise.
Enter the role of the GBA. The Governing Bodies Association claim to represent the voluntary grammar schools. Exactly who represents your local grammar school and in what capacity is not made clear http://www.gbani.org/?tabindex=15&tabid=810
The GBA have two secretaries, many spokesmen but no treasurer even though they demand membership fees. A claim from their website states:
It supports, in appropriate ways, Governors, Principals, Teachers, Pupils and Parents. Members work tirelessly on a voluntary basis for all young people in the province. To achieve its aims it interacts with the business, commerce, industry and other public services.
It fails to mention the close, some would say, intimate, relationship with the Minister of Education and the Office of the Permanent Secretary of the DENI. Hence the statement by Caitriona Ruane yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster that she was aware of full details of a recent meeting of the GBA held in Methodist College, Belfast , including the fact that there was no agreement on a single test.
There are 52 grammar schools eligible for membership but the entire state controlled grammar school sector are excluded.
Twice in the last month Finbar McCallion, Hon Secretary of the GBA, was interviewed on BBC Radio Ulster Good Morning Ulster. Mr McCallion raised the issue of the “one test” and spoke of a search for consensus on the basis of the specifications for the AQE and GL Assessment tests being “similar”. A specification for the GL Assessment test has yet to be disclosed to parents. How can a test be valid or reliable without a specification prepared in advance? Was Mr McCallion misleading parents and the public to avoid further difficulties for the Minister’s failed strategy prior to the General Election? How is that Mr McCallion can claim to have compared the two specifications? In what capacity did Mr McCallion have access to the GL Assessment specification ? Who are the Joint Commissioning Group he referred to on BBC Radio Ulster? Is he a member? Which schools have agreed to this arrangement?
PACE contacted GL Assessment requesting a copy in February and were referred on the basis of commercial confidence to the Post Primary Consortium. An FOI request to Ballymena Academy, a GBA member school using the GL Assessment test is still pending a response.
Mr McCallion implied to the listeners that the two testing providers were actively working on a common test. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr McCallion and fellow travellers such as Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Wilfred Mulryne, Scott Naismith, David Manning seem willing to see all grammar schools go the way of the Catholic grammars, i.e. to comprehensive status. Hiding the intent behind descriptions such as “all ability, foundation, bipartite ” or otherwise does not change the essential fact that a school failing to use academic selection by testing at 11 is not legally a grammar school. Even the GBA managed to point this out to the Minister for Education. Why they waited so long to do still requires an answer.
The two GL Assessment multiple choice tests are not similar or comparable to the AQE CEA “constructed response” tests. That being so, the motivation for introducing GL Assessment tests, mainly by the Catholic schools, is raised. The question of who paid GL Assessment for the creation, trialling, administration and marking of the test has yet to be answered. The AQE test was available to all grammar schools. Two tests were introduced in order for the Catholic grammars to achieve a goal identified on Slugger O’Toole by one poster.
“generations of Catholics who were abandoned and left to rot by self righteous institutional sectarianism”
The catholic church chose to set up a parallel sectarian system, and the state disgracefully acceded.
State schools were always open to catholics, still are, which gets us to the real reason the catholic church will keep selection at least until it it ended in the state sector.
They don’t want catholics going to mixed grammar schools, where they are already very welcome, especially for the schools’ accountants.
on Mar 03, 2010 @ 07:34 AM
3 into 2 won’t go
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.
September 2, 2009
A draft post from PACENI April 20, 2009 is now published.
In an effort to distract from the continued and unexplained silence on the matter of academic selection to Catholic grammar schools by their fellow principals the Catholic anti-selection group have announced the formation of yet another Catholic education body.
The BBC Northern Ireland Education report claims:
“They are forming an association which they say will speak for those whose views have not been adequately heard.”
Nothing could be further fro the truth. The Northern Ireland public have heard nothing but anti-selection rhetoric for years parroted ad nauseum by carefully selected “educationalists”
It is ironic that despite having an unfettered run at delivering their objectives they are no further along than ever. Parents and wider society have grown tired of their ineffectiveness.
The principals say Caitriona Ruane’s admission criteria make testing unnecessary and no Catholic school should have any problem with them.
Perhaps the 30+ grammar principals should explain their change in approach four months later.
March 11, 2009
During her announcement denying parents a regulated measure of their child’s attainment at primary school the education minister stated:
“I will not do it. The test has been cancelled,”
“To simply make a test available and not have a legal framework to define its use would be highly |irresponsible.”
Caitriona Ruane MLA , Minister for Education Northern Ireland Assembly
On 16th May 2008 the promise to parents was very different.
NI’s education minister has faced the assembly’s education committee about her plans for primary school transfer.
Caitríona Ruane aims to extend academic selection for three years before ending it.
It will take the form of one hour-long test of literacy and numeracy, and it will be held in a grammar school.
The Minister sent instructions through the Permanent Secretary, Will Haire, outlining how CCEA were to proceed.
Asked for the specification under the Freedom of Information Act the CCEA refused.
In early February the Minister withdrew her “regulated test” costing the taxpayer over £100,000
So who’s being irresponsible Minister Ruane?
January 31, 2009
Concern over the social stratification in Catholic schools is highlighted in this blog post by Hugh Green
Stepping back 15 years takes the Catholic school system in Northern Ireland to a period before the Good Friday Agreement. That’s progress!
January 30, 2009
From the Vatican II document Gravissimum Educationis (The Importance of Education)
The Council also reminds Catholic parents of the duty of entrusting their children to Catholic schools wherever and whenever it is possible and of supporting these schools to the best of their ability and of cooperating with them for the education of their children… This Sacred Council of the Church earnestly entreats pastors and all the faithful to spare no sacrifice in helping Catholic schools fulfill their function in a continually more perfect way, and especially in caring for the needs of those who are poor in the goods of this world or who are deprived of the assistance and affection of a family or who are strangers to the gift of Faith.
Since the NFER admission test on offer by Catholic Grammar schools comprises a verbal, non-verbal and mathematics paper and cannot be prepared for in primary schools under the revised curriculum it follows that any tuition, coaching or practice for the Catholic test will disadvantage the poor. Any preparation must take place outside of school time.
Gravissimum Educationis is about Christian education but only for Catholic Christians it seems. Reading it, if they have been taught to read, must make the poor child wonder if and when they will ever get an equality of opportunity from the Education Minister and Department of Education in Northern Ireland.
The Duties and Rights of Parents
In addition it is the task of the state to see to it that all citizens are able to come to a suitable share in culture and are properly prepared to exercise their civic duties and rights. Therefore the state must protect the right of children to an adequate school education, check on the ability of teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the pupils and in general, promote the whole school project. But it must always keep in mind the principle of subsidiarity so that there is no kind of school monopoly, for this is opposed to the native rights of the human person, to the development and spread of culture, to the peaceful association of citizens and to the pluralism that exists today in ever so many societies.
Caitriona Ruane and her Departmental officials may benefit from a reading of The Importance of Education
December 31, 2008
On the eve of 2009 it is opportune to reflect on the legacy of ending the 11-plus in Northern Ireland. The “unregulated” system has left a vacuum of uncertainty for parents and children in primary schools. One group of grammar schools are offering a privitased transfer test similar to the most recent form of 11-plus testing.
The Catholic sector, unwilling to join their Christian fellows in the Voluntary and Controlled grammar schools, have broken away and will offer a retrograde “intelligence test” impossible to teach for using the current revised curriculum.
The Apartheid system facing parents in 2009 will result in further and formal segregation of schooling on a denominational basis. There will be no parity between the tests and parents living in Belfast will struggle to decide which test to enter their child for. The practical difficulties alone only serve to highlight the ineptitude of those charged with delivering education services. The peculiar moral and ethical juxtaposition of the Catholic Church’s position over a retrograde test for admission is best highlighted in the following passage. It should be remembered that the Church supports the revised curriculum.
As for the DUP; their support for the ESA and the litany of failures delivered by CCEA is only matched by their facile reversal of the St Andrew’s Agreement promises on academic selection and grammar schools.
CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION :THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL
In the specifically educational field, the scope of educational functions has broadened, becoming more complex, more specialized. The sciences of education, which concentrated in the past on the study of the child and teacher-training, have been widened to include the various stages of life, and the different spheres and situations beyond the school. New requirements have given force to the demand for new contents, new capabilities and new educational models besides those followed traditionally. Thus education and schooling become particularly difficult today.Such an outlook calls for courageous renewal on the part of the Catholic school. The precious heritage of the experience gained over the centuries reveals its vitality precisely in the capacity for prudent innovation. And so, now as in the past, the Catholic school must be able to speak for itself effectively and convincingly.The Catholic school, therefore, undertakes a cordial and constructive dialogue with states and civil authorities. Such dialogue and collaboration must be based on mutual respect, on the reciprocal recognition of each other’s role and on a common service to mankind. To achieve this end, the Catholic school willingly occupies its place within the school system of the different countries and in the legislation of the individual states, when the latter respect the fundamental rights of the human person, starting with respect for life and religious freedom. A correct relationship between state and school, not only a Catholic school, is based not so much on institutional relations as on the right of each person to receive a suitable education of their free choice. This right is acknowledged according to the principle of subsidiarity.(18) For “The public authority, therefore, whose duty it is to protect and defend the liberty of the citizens, is bound according to the principle of distributive justice to ensure that public subsidies are so allocated that parents are truly free to select schools for their children in accordance with their conscience“.
December 23, 2008
Mrs O’Boyle , a teacher said ,
“ like everyone else, have been waiting impatiently for twelve months, to hear the details of Ms Ruane’s elusive ‘proposals’ and so far, all we have been served up are platitudes about how much she cares for children.”
Mrs O’Boyle said Ms Ruane was
”a woman who either preaches or harangues”
and attacked her espousal of the education system in the Republic of Ireland — while she sends her children across the border from her Louth home to a grammar school in Northern Ireland- untill she left.
Referring to the announcement that the Association for Quality Education (AQE), that it intended to set up its own transfer process-
“She has presided over the privatisation of selection by allowing the AQE enough time to advance their proposals, and, like Lumen Christi College in Derry, other Catholic grammar schools will follow suit, or risk catholic children opting to do the entrance tests to the voluntary grammars.”
So parents will be faced by two tests and forced to choose from Association for Quality Education (AQE) test- private and costly -the other NFER Catholic test – free but inferior and invalid.
A struggle is ongoing as the two sectarian groups of grammar schools decide on which test they will stick with. The losers, as ever, will be the parents and pupils forced to endure an apartheid testing system for entry into gramar schools.
More to follow.