In a debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly on the future of post-primary transfer 

the PUP leader Dawn Purvis MLA exposed her ideological alignment to that of her supposed enemy Sinn Fein. It is unfortunate when the elected represemtative of working class unionist east Belfast has to admit that the middle class teachers and principals have let the children down


The current system of academic selection offers nothing for too many children, particularly those from deprived areas, who have a greater chance of attending lower-performing primary schools that will not prepare them for this system. I hope that the House agrees that children’s academic ability is class-proof and has no boundaries. Bright, capable children exist in every home, every neighbourhood, every ethnicity and every social and economic class. A child’s academic performance is restricted, depending on the resources and opportunities that he or she receives.

One must wonder if Ms Purvis has yet to identify the link between lower-performing primary schools and schools that will not prepare them for this system.

Dawn Purvis of the Progressive Unionist Party should listen to that great communist champion of the poor, Antonio Gramsci, who argued, in his Prison Notebooks, that “the less objective the testing, the more the working-class child or peasant child would be at a disadvantage.”

Incredibly Dawn Purvis continued

The Assembly must abolish academic selection, which unfairly disadvantages working-class children. I am at a loss to explain why a unionist party supports the retention of a policy that discriminates against working-class unionists

As a recent article in Belfast Telegraph by Robert McCartney QC (from the Shankill Road) pointed out in response to claims by the Greater Shankill Principals on the link between poor numeracy and literacy results and the 11-plus, the failure of those schools leaders is their lack of encouragement to pupils and parents. Their determination to avoid the equality of opportunity that the 11-plus affords all defies explanation.

The Greater Shankill Principals  encourage and contribute to poverty of aspiration.

In her ill-informed remarks Dawn Purvis demonstrates her own lack of education through a selective ignoring of the available evidence.

PACE will continue to highlight the world’s best evidence based education research that disproves Ms Purvis’ claims.