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The Governing Bodies Association of Northern Ireland’s voluntary grammar schools are an organisation in disarray.meltdown. 

The following extracts have been taken from notes of a meeting of the GBA Executive held on 18th January 2008.  Events subsequent to that meeting which raise questions about the resolve of the Governors of Grammar Schools to preserve academic selection at 11 as a criteria for admission. The Pupil Profile, much loved by the GBA and Wilfred Mulryne, has met the outcome predicted by PACE years ago. Yet Mulryne continues to exact influence on the future of grammar schools in much the same way he did on the revised curriculum, the early years enriched curriculum and the Pupil Profile.

 2009  may be the year to kiss the Mulryne influence goodbye.

RHL: He suggested it was pointless to try to cobble up some form of words or find some phrase that would enable the pretence to be maintained that there was consensus or unanimity when patently that was not the case. He also suggested that it could be significant that in recent weeks and months the words “pupil profile” appeared to have been deleted from the vocabulary of the Minister and her senior officials.  Was it not fatuous to think that the Dept could be persuaded to modify the pupil profile to such an extent that it would become a reliable indicator of a pupil’s abilities?  In any event why should the GBA continue to believe that the pupil profile could be used as an instrument to match pupils to schools when the Dept itself declared that it was unsuitable for this purpose?

Sir Kenneth Bloomfield He acknowledged that it was extremely difficult to reach a consensus but there was a real danger of accepting what was simply the lowest common denominator.  The GBA’s  previous policy document with its requirement for a genuinely robust pupil profile and provision for a receiving school not to accept any pupil clearly unsuited to the curriculum on offer were the very minimum acceptable criteria. 

Dr Mulryne replied that this was not exactly the case.  It should be remembered that initially it was proposed that the receiving school would not be entitled to see the pupil profile but this position had been changed as a result of representations by the GBA.  Moreover the pupil profile as now envisaged would contain objective assessments of a pupil’s abilities, eg reading age.


Fr Patrick Delargy agreed. They should leave the Dept with what had already been submitted last year.  No response had been forthcoming to that document. To forward another now might be seen as a watering down of the GBA’s position.  At this stage the new paper should be considered as a basis for healthy internal debate.


The suggestions of Sir Anthony and Fr Delargy were agreed.


Executive officers are to meet Dept officials on Tue Jan 22 at 8-30am.

There can be no doubt for parents that the subsequent proposals from Mulryne, Young and Donaghy were hatched well in advanced by the core architects of the GBA retreat away from academic selection.


A footnote on “lobbying activity” reveals some possible explanation of the DUP mirroring the GBA position.



At the start of the meeting Sir Gerry Loughran reported on a meeting which he and others had had with Mr Dominic Bradley of the SDLP.  He said Mr Bradley had been “very open to our thinking” but was a supporter of the proposed ESA.  It was essential to pursue other MLA’s to get the GBA’s position established in their thinking.  Efforts were now being made to die down appointments with Mr  Sammy Wilson and Mr Basil McCrea