Academic Selection should not be abolished in Northern Ireland! sign now

Academic Selection should not be abolished in Northern Ireland!

The educational reforms planned by Caitrнona Ruane should not take place as they will have a devastating affect on our education system. The plan to get rid of academic selection is ridiculous for many reasons.

Arguments for Grammar Schools and Academic Selection

By using examples of the failures incurred when England switched to the comprehensive system as well as stating other advantages. One can see why academic selection and grammar schools in Northern Ireland is and was so successful


Individual successes
The grammar school system offered excellent opportunities to children who passed their eleven plus. By offering an advanced curriculum to the more capable students, it allowed them an education that better reflected their own abilities, rather than the average of the group. The merit of learning in groups of comparative ability, both at the top and the bottom of the spectrum, is a well recognised principle in education.

Undermining privilege
The existence of grammar schools greatly reduced the educational privileges of the traditional ruling class in Britain. For example, before 1944 over half the boys at Eton went to Oxbridge, many of them to Kings College, Cambridge where there were guaranteed places for Etonians. The competition from the grammar school brought that system to an end. Members of the aristocracy were no longer guaranteed whatever education they wanted, but had to compete with boys from more humble origins. Advocates of the Tripartite System argue that the competition it induced was a powerful tool against inherited privilege. Many private fee-paying schools were encountering difficulties until the grammar schools started to be abolished. Their abolition was a veritable gift to them and they have flourished ever since.

More equitable
Supporters of the grammar school system contend that bright children from poor backgrounds were far better served by the Tripartite System. The Comprehensive System was created with the intention of offering a grammar school-quality education at all levels but this never materialised. In practice there remains a strong hierarchy in secondary education, reinforced by a profusion of league table and performance measures.
Places at schools are allocated by several different criteria, only one of which is a voluntary selection test. Schools are obliged to take pupils from within their catchment area, regardless of ability and must also take the siblings of children already attending. This has introduced several routes for getting into good schools that are at best tangentially related to academic ability. Eager parents can buy houses in the catchment area of a good institution, or put their child forward for a selective school. (This has actually resulted in the government using anti-terror powers to check up on people t o see if they really live where they say they live)
Such methods favour middle class parents, who are usually far more able to invest time and money in getting a good education for their children. Grammar schools are also held to be fairer than the continued expansion of fee-paying schools, which poor children can only attend through bursaries. Rather than a postcode lottery, based on neighbourhood, wealth and parental effort, it is far fairer to allocate school places based on the individual childs merits.

School environment
With increasing concern about levels of classroom discipline, it is argued that comprehensive schools can foster an environment that is not conducive to academic achievement. Bright children can suffer bullying for doing well at school, and have to justify their performance to their social group. The grammar school, by insulating the more able, would provide a safer environment to learn.



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Meredith HartmanBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
Northern Ireland Assembly

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