Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A way forward?

As the anger over last week's announcement by the Minister subsides and the reality of a privatised and totally deregulated system dawns on us all, it is surely time for some political leadership on this issue.

The Church Leader's initiative provides the basis on which to build. Surely it is time for the SDLP and the UUP to sit down together and consider how they can further develop the cleric's thinking and provide parents, pupils and teachers with some reassurance that local politicians can agree a way forward on this issue.

There are a series of principles which could be discussed and which might form the basis of some common ground. Amongst them could be:
  • Agreement that 14 is a better age at which to exercise pupil and parental choice about possible transfer for the final four years of education;
  • Agreement to further develop thinking about a collegiate based system;
  • Agreement to guarantee parents and pupils access faith based education;
  • Agreement that an early intervention strategy should be developed to support children from deprived socio economic backgrounds during primary and early second level education;
  • Agreement to consider and draw on international best practice when developing these proposals;
  • Agreement that the system must be based on a commitment to social equity and educational excellence at every level;
  • Agreement that the change programme would be rolled out over at least a five year period, allowing up to ten years for any institutional realignments to take place;
  • Agreement that an interim regulated system should be introduced immediately.

These are just some preliminary personal thoughts.

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