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If the general public needed additional evidence of the growing gulf in connection between politicians and ordinary people they need look no further than this Ulster Unionist motion on the Assembly Order Paper for Tuesday 3rd November 2015



The claims made in the Motion are worthy of examination.

That this Assembly notes that a solution to the post-primary process has not been found.

The facts prove otherwise. According to the results of a survey of parents conducted annually since AQE started offering transfer tests (1) The number of applications has grown annually, (2) the tests are more popular than the transfer tests offered by CCEA, (3) the satisfaction expressed by parents runs in the high 90% area.

Further notes that a one size fits all educational solution will not work.

This is stating the obvious so long as a selective education system continues. Unfortunately the persistent interference by politicians determined to impose a comprehensive system on Northern Ireland parents will ensure the imposition of a one size fits all schooling system.

Believes that it is becoming increasingly unacceptable, that every year, thousands of young people are sitting unregulated transfer tests

Unacceptable to the political class? There is no compulsion on any pupil to take the transfer test. If a place in a grammar school is desired then equality of opportunity requires that a test be taken to determine those who should gain admission. It is unsafe for some schools to use tables  seeming to have originated via Victoria College, Belfast to equate the results of two different tests to determine admission. Dualling is to be condemned

Primary schools are placed in the difficult position of mediating between parental demand and the Department of Education policies

It is noteworthy that primary schools have a statutory duty to teach the curriculum which includes both numeracy and literacy. The AQE tests are based on the curriculum so if a primary school stays out of politics and teaches the curriculum there is no potential for conflict. However all of the teaching unions are anti-selection which places teachers in conflict with the best interests of pupils and their parents. The DENI policies are congruent with the main political parties, all of which are anti-selection. Mike Nesbitt and Danny Kinahan are the product of private (or pseudo-private) school education

Further believes that the ongoing politicking of the issue does not address the seriousness of the matter

Did anyone in the Ulster Unionist Party actually read this prior to submitting it? The only people politicking on education are the political parties who are foolishly pandering to principals and teachers who want less accountability.

Calls on the Minister of Education to convene talks with all the major stakeholders in order to build consensus and agree a way forward on the issue.

Martin McGuinness’ Household Survey gave the education establishment the answer they didn’t want to hear in 2002. 64% of households in Northern Ireland wanted to retain academic selection. A cabal of unaccountable educationalists had different ideas which can be associated with Sinn Fein’s Eire Nua. The past decade and a half have been spent trying to convince parents that the education system is broken and in need of rescue. Thankfully AQE gained access to an instrument which meets all of the international standards for high-stakes tests.


It is worth noting that in choosing the time to raise this matter the UUP will have been aware of the commencement of annual transfer testing in schools throughout the province. Undoubtedly the media willingly play their part in stoking up the annual faux-crisis by picking up on the politicians unobtainable target of ending academic selection or combining the two different tests into one. The UUP are deliberately ignoring young people and their parents and cynically adding to unnecessary anxieties and distractions for pupils preparing for important tests.

Danny Kennedy.jpg

It is noteworthy that Danny Kennedy, no longer a Minister in the Executive, has tabled this motion. 15 years ago Mr Kennedy was the Chair of the Education Committee when Martin McGuinness launched his campaign to remove selection.  Now he is back in the education field readers should be reminded of his effectiveness, or lack thereof, e.g.

SElliott Ed Comm

It took The Times Higher Education https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/phantom-book-discovered-in-queens-research-portal/2014144.article to out Professors Gallagher & Smith on their academic misconduct.

Unfortunately Danny Kennedy did not at any time  direct  Martin McGuinness to issue a correction via the Department of Education website. Instead the deception has been available for the world to see for over 15 years. Check it out for yourself. https://www.deni.gov.uk/publications/gallagher-and-smith-research-main-report