Commenting before the first of the Grammar sectors tests on Saturday Sinn Féin education spokesperson, John O’Dowd, said:
“The testing of children at 10 and 11 years of age to decide if they may or may not enter a school is wrong, it has no proven educational benefit and numerous educational social disadvantages.
“I welcome the fact that the Catholic sector will move away from the practice of Academic selection within two years, I hope others reconsider their position and open their schools up to centres of educational excellence for all.
“Much has been made in the media of those pupils who will be sitting the tests, I wish them all well and hope they understand that they are unique valued individuals regardless of what their test results are.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the silent majority, the pupils who will not be sitting a test, who will transferring into a Post primary school which teaches the exact same curriculum as Grammar and offers access to the same level of qualifications as grammar schools.
“These pupils too deserve our attention and regard as they prepare for the next chapter in their academic and vocational lives.
“Our Post primary schools on daily basis prove why there is no justifiable requirement for the 11 plus, they provide a first class education and produce pupils who go out into society and become leaders whether it be in a Academic or vocational careers
Concluding Mr O’ Dowd said;
“The DUP brought Academic selection to the talks table at St Andrews in 2007, and refused to share power with their nationalist and republican neighbours unless the British Government capitulated to the DUP demand that Selection be retained on the statute books.
“To date the DUP have not publicly acknowledged on whose behalf such a demand was made, the evidence shows it certainly was not on behalf of the thousand of working class protestant children turned away from grammar schools every year.
“I would call on all those who are genuinely opposed to the socially unjust practice of Academic selection to recommit themselves to ending it, not by accommodating further testing on the false promise of ‘ give us more time and we will change’. The facts are the grammar lobby has had 50 years to change and they have continually held onto their unjust system.
“Now for the first time in a lifetime collectively change can be delivered, now is the time to stand by your convictions and to help remove this socially unjust policy form our education system and our society.” ENDS