15 May 2008

DUP and Sinn Féin disagree on Education Reform

Sinn Féin and its partner in the North's power-sharing government, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), are in serious disagreement over the proposed - and long overdue - reform of the education service in the Six Counties.

The First Minister and (for a few more days) DUP leader Ian Paisley described the proposals of the Education Minister, Sinn Féin's Caitríona Ruane (left) as "totally unacceptable". In his opinion the minister's plan did "not form a basis for moving forward".

It is - and has been for some time - Sinn Féin policy to end the existing test, known as the 'Eleven plus', which is still taken by all primary school pupils in the North before they transfer to secondary level. The test determines which pupils will go to grammar schools, and which will be educated in less academic secondary schools.

The DUP wants to keep some form of academic streaming, and a group of grammar schools has already declared that it will introduce its own form of testing if the 'Eleven plus' should be officially abolished in the Six Counties.

Education Minister Ruane wants to end the 'Eleven plus' (also known as the Transfer Test) this year, and she has warned there could be huge uncertainty for the education service if there was no agreement for new arrangements.

Tonight Ian Paisley (right) - in a last roar before his political retirement - said that schools "must be able to select pupils on the basis of ability". His party would accept nothing less.

Before the last power-sharing administration collapsed, the then Education Minister and current Deputy First Minister, Martin Mc Guinness (Sinn Féin) had already promised to end the 'Eleven plus' system in the North of Ireland.
The test had been established for the whole UK in 1944. But in England, Scotland and Wales it was abolished as the standard procedure in 1976. It has remained in operation only in the North of Ireland, three English counties (Buckinghamshire, Essex and Kent) and in the London Borough of Bexley.

The Emerald Islander

No comments:

Post a Comment