Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Where to from here?

We are back at square one in every possible way following Minister Ruane's statement to the Assembly yesterday. By allowing a free for all she has effectively returned Northern Ireland to the place it was at before the 1947 Education Act. Then it was money that talked and children from affluent homes had a huge advantage over those from working class backgrounds.

The 11 plus was the ticket into education for many working class Catholics and Protestants in the 50's, 60's and 70's. Nobody disputes that the world has moved on and that the 11 plus no longer serves the purpose it was meant to. That is why all the parties in the Assembly agreed that it should go. Where they differ is on what replaces it.

Several months ago the four main churches came together to propose a way forward which might be capable of commanding political support but was also based on sound thinking.

In their statement the clerics said primary school children were picking up on their parents confusion about what would happen when the 11-plus ends.

“It is clear that there are strong yet unreconciled convictions about the best system of education for the future. Each viewpoint seems to cancel out the other and, in the absence of consensus, we risk heading to an abyss of unregulated arrangements.”

Calling on politicians to do the job they are being paid to do, the statement continued:

“We ask our politicians, and others, to stand back from established positions and to create the space necessary so that, through dialogue between those with different outlooks, the best way forward may be found for all children.”

That we find ourselves in this place is a tragedy of unspeakable terms. In Tim McGarry’s words at the end of BBC Hearts and Minds in November; “Sarah Palin is the only person in the world who makes Caitriona Ruane look like a competent politician.”

My son is one of 30,000 P5 and P6 students now in educational limbo. They deserve better from their Minister and from the Executive. These millennium kids were born into great optimism and hope, the promise of new North with a shared future.

1 comment:

  1. This blog reflects yet another conflict of interest for educationalists posing as "concerned parents". Professor Tony Gallagher has advised, been paid and reported for the Department of Education (the government body responsible for the current education chaos) from the outset of the current attempt to impose comprehensive education against the will of parents and pupils.

    For the only non-political parental blog addressing parental rights see


    Imitation is said to be a form of flattery but
    “Deception is a cruel act... It often has many players on different stages that corrode the soul.”
    Donna Favors, Member of the Board of Directors of the Montgomery Institute, 1955

    Close to the bone Tony?


You are welcome to comment on the issues being debated. We would ask you to respect other's views and refrain from insulting or personal comments.