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 Sunday Sequence takes on the issue of education chaos today.

Sunday 08 February 2009

Presented by Will Leitch

The big Education Debate : order from chaos?

The comedy continues. PACE parents have just finished listening to BBC Radio Ulster Sunday Sequence during which Bishop McKeown (without the protestant church leaders) spoke at length of the Catholic education plan which he admitted had been thoroughly developed back in December but was only announced this past week. The minister’s failure to impose her “compromise” stay of execution required the removal of her “contingency test” and the deployment of the next phase of the Catholic solution.  “From Chaos to Holy Order” may have been a more appropriate title for the Sunday Sequence set piece.

The most telling revelation during the programme was Bishop McKeown’s acceptance of short term immorality in exchange for medium and long term morality surrounding the Catholic position on academic selection. Parents of all faith will struggle with the concept.

Paul Hewitt of Dungannon Royal School, an AQE member, failed to communicate that the entire Catholic grammar system was afforded the opportunity via the GBA, to adopt the test measuring numeracy and literacy. Rejecting this offer from their non-denominational neighbours the Catholic system went their own way and have chosen an NFER intelligence test which cannot be taught for in the revised curriculum classroom. In much the same way that the GBA were offered the opportunity of computer adaptive testing and rejected it in a similar dismissive fashion.

For McKeown to claim that he has had this chaos was imposed upon him and his followers is disingenuous. This unease with the facts as represented by the auxillary bishop mirrors the concern over the appearance of Conall McDevitt’s blog claiming to be interested in parents and childrens views. McDevitt’s  portrayal of Tony Gallagher as a neutral is a deception. Gallaher is anti-academic selection, always has been and has a never even taught in a post-primary classroom in his life. Note Donal’s call to consider the churches position.

Dragging us back to the rejected GBA selection at 14 conundrum is simply a diversion.

A final observation on the make up of the panel. Two Catholic grammar principals (Donal McKeown), one Catholic secondary head and a soon to be retired non-denominational grammar head. The BBC equality team need to take a look.