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The Sunday Times today, 5th February, 2012 carried a front page headline: One-third of North Schools are “failing”. The paper was not referring to Donegal.

After receipt of results from the 2012 11-plus tests from AQE and GL Assessment many parents will be anxious about the choice of school for their child. They may benefit from an examination of the performance of all post-primary schools at GCSE, rather than believing the flattering information given at open days. The important figure to examine is the standard 5+ A* – C (including English & Maths). Local media and the DENI have hidden behind the figures which exclude this important information but parents may feel that achieving competency in numeracy and literacy may not be too much to ask of schools after 12 years of compulsory ( and expensive) education.

Kathryn Torney, former education correspondent of the Belfast Telegraph, and currently employed  by the Atlantic Philanthropy funded TheDetail.tv authored the article but her qualitative “analysis” mainly refers to the opinions of educationalists with a long-standing anti-academic stance. None have solutions.

“Over the last 20 to 30 years, there has been a whole series of initiatives of different kinds all focused around the issue of low performance or underperformance. The most recent is the Every  School a Good School policy. However, the situation doesn’t appear to have changed that very much in terms of the relative patterns.”

Tony Gallagher, Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast

One very disturbing detail: thirty five schools fall into a group in which only one in five pupils leave compulsory education with 5 A* -C GCSEs.

All are named.