For immediate release
AN UNHOLY MESS: THE ATTACK ON ACADEMIC SELECTION AND GRAMMAR SCHOOLS
“Is it to be tomorrow and tomorrow? Why not now? Why not this very hour put an end to shame?”
Bishop of Hippo, Doctor of the Church (A.D. 430)
WHERE IS THE SUPPOSED IMMORALITY OF ACADEMIC SELECTION FOR THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TODAY?
The announcement by the Catholic Commission on the limited use of academic entrance tests for Catholic Grammar schools raises a fundamental question about the Catholic Church’s position on academic selection.
The NICCE representing the Catholic bishops and leaders of religious congregations as trustees of Catholic schools has reversed a previous position by the Northern Bishops.
The reluctant blessing from the bishops for academic selection to continue goes against warnings of legal perils from Caitriona Ruane, the Education Minister and is the outcome established in a bid to agree on a joint way forward for the Catholic sector.
However the new policy on post-primary transfer for Catholic schools suggests that all schools should stop using academic selection no later than 2012. This position is nonsense.
Stephen Elliott, Chairman of The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education said,
“Academic selection, which is a fundamental principle and practice for grammar schools, is being used as an instrument of convenience by the Catholic Church and education system hierarchy.
There remains a fundamental flaw in the Catholic hierarchy’s thinking on the matter of academic selection. The Church leaders fail to acknowledge that parents want academic selection as the first criteria for admission to grammar schools. Parents wish, in consultation and with quantitative information, to choose schools for their children not for schools, educationalists, the DENI or politicians to choose those schools for them or remove them from existence.
The Parental Alliance for Choice in Education welcomes the fact that a philosophical right to academic selection has been recognised by the anti-selection Catholic hierarchy. That right must also be recognised by the other main church leaders”
Notes to Editors
Extracts from the Catholic Bishops Statement on Academic selection
“We wish to state our clear opposition to the introduction of independent academic assessment tools by schools as a temporary or future means of pupil selection.”
“In this context, as the legal Trustees of Catholic schools in Northern Ireland, we do not approach the current debate about the future of education here from the point of view of any particular political philosophy or administrative policy. While some have sought to claim the support of the Catholic Bishops for their approach to the current debate, we have scrupulously avoided endorsing the perspective of any political party or specific structures to replace the 11+.
Parents and the wider public will rightly question the credibility of those who claim selection to be morally wrong while at the same time advocating its practice.”