In Northern Ireland Sinn Fein and the SDLP are absolutely against academic selection and the 11-plus. Following the lead of the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland it seems those linked to Catholic influences in the Conservative Party may have prompted David Cameron to have followed suit. What else can explain David Cameron’s untimely shift in policy? Certainly not the evidence on the academic performance and behavioural ethos of grammars. Hardly the success of the city acadamies, the Tory’s latest policy  flop .

Evidence from the Conservatives YouGov recent poll supports the hypothesis that rejection of academic selection and the 11-plus in Northern Ireland are a disguised attack on the Protestant world view.  Even the Alliance party- supporters of integrated education, largely reject the Sinn Fein minister’s proposals. Many Alliance supporters are garden center Protestants who would die rather than give offence but they still want academic selection. Interestingly the integrated sector have so-called all-ability (read comprehensive) schools which use academic selection to admit 35% of their intake

So where is the”absolute defence” of grammar schools that Michael Gove suggests in Northern Ireland when the entire Catholic Voluntary Grammar School cohort of 32 schools has failed to defend the rights of parents and pupils to that choice? Are the Conservatives in Northern Ireland and the central  party and leaders willing to lie down when the Catholic Church decides that academic selection is no longer in their parishoners’interests and removes the choice?

Ed Balls is right, there is a split in the Conservative Party over education. It is a pity that David Cameron or Michael Gove cannot explain it to the electorate.  Perhaps the Catholic Church in England can?

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