In a press release on the NICIE web site, posted June 6th, a headline claim for “an alternative model to academic selection” appears.

The author, Barry Corrigan, a VP at Carryduff IPS and chair of the Integrated Education Teachers’ Committee attacks the decision to offer entrance exams for grammar schools.

His alternative is simply the enforcement, against the stated wishes of the majority of parents, teachers, pupils and the general public, of comprehensive schooling and the destruction of the grammar school system.

It is unfortunate that Mr Corrigan’s alternative, despite the usual richness of rhetoric, is missing the detail of exactly how standards of teaching and objectively measured attainment has improved in integrated or other schools. Perhaps more importantly he gives no detail on how transfer at 11 is to be achieved. In that vein he joins the host of educationalists big on vision but blind to the detail. Perhaps he remains unaware of the absolute chaos introduced into schools by the introduction of the CCEA revised curriculum. The Pupil Profile Mr Corrigan and fellow teachers produce for parents is a flawed instrument designed to paint all pupils as successful even when they have not be taught basic numeracy and literacy to a satisfactory standard Perhaps if he spent more time reading the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report or the Northern Ireland Audit Office Report on the £40 million waste of public money spend on a failed strategy and shifting targets he could contribute usefully to the debate. Instead of simply parrotting the same tired old nonsense about equality of results and the 21st Century vision of a group of failed ideologues and hangers-on.  His political support for  the Minister for Education’s discriminatory diktat and comprehensive policy is worthy of some closer examination by parents.

The biggest deceit Mr Corrigan perpetrates is his failure to admit that the Integrated Sector is an avid fan of academic selection. Perhaps he should address the fundamental issue of his organisation’s stance when two of the most well known integrated schools, Lagan and Slemish both use academic selection to admit pupils. Maybe he should start with the NICIE  Chief Executive, Michael Wardlow, who has a keen personal preference for grammar schools.

Mr Corrigan should stick to the job they are employed to do – teaching children. Their  failure to welcome or permit measurement of their claimed teaching success by objective methods continues to undermine parental support for or confidence in teachers.

Of course this will not bother Mr Corrigan much right now; He and his teacher friends will all be off work for the next two moths. Parents and pupils have no such escape from the Minister’s education chaos.

His  attack on AQEand Sir Kenneth Bloomfield  may be entirely warranted since they represent less than half of grammar schools but to attack the principle of academic selection is another issue, in which Mr Corrigan and his group represent a well funded but consensus poor minority.

The Integrated Sector will always be the Sony Betamax of education providers. The market moves on Mr Corrigan.

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