The Equality Commission held its annual conference meeting at the Belfast Hilton on November 12, 2008
A few things to note. All the speakers were avowed anti-11-plus, anti-selection and anti-equality of opportunity. Tony Gallagher, one of the speakers, provided the report to the Equality Commission on retaining the teachers’ exemption to the Fair Employment and Treatment law . All the speakers helped to advise government on ending the transfer test and are therefore directly responsible for the chaos currently permeating around the school gates.
Most interesting of all there was no mention of parents in the conference. Not a word.
The theme of this year´s annual conference was ´equality in education´. Chief Commissioner Bob Collins opened the Conference with a keynote speech setting out the Commission´s objectives for the education sector and Chief Executive Evelyn Collins chaired the event.
Delegates were addressed by Professor Tony Gallagher, Queen´s University, Gavin Boyd, Chief Executive Designate, Education & Skills Authority, and Avril Hall-Callaghan and Fern Turner, both from the Northern Ireland Teacher´s Council. There were also contributions from young people and representative organisations on personal educational experiences.
The conference saw the launch of a new document ´Every Child an Equal Child´ which sets out the extent of educational inequalities in Northern Ireland and outlines the Commission´s recommendations to embed the principles and practices of equality into the core of the education system.
The closing address was given by the Minister for Education, Caitriona Ruane MLA.
The conference was attended by those working in primary and post-primary education including representatives from teaching unions, youth and community based organisations, education and library boards, schools, colleges and universities.