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30% of ‘elite’ Grammar Schools accept a majority of non A grade students

7 July, 2008 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson John O'Dowd has said that new figures released by the Department of Education highlight how dramatically the education environment is changing.

New figures show that in 30% of the so-called elite grammar schools now take a majority of students into the first year who did not get an A Grade in the 11+ including schools such as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, Bloomfield Collegiate, Hunterhouse College, Glenlola Collegiate and the Armagh and Dungannomn Royal Schools.

The new figures also identify only four Grammar Schools in the North not accepting students with C or D grades.

Commenting on the figures Mr O'Dowd said:

"The reality is that demographic decline is changing the face of the school environment. We need to manage this because 50,000 empty desks are having a massive impact on our school system.

"This is forcing the so-called 'elite' Grammar Schools to adapt and 30% are now taking a majority of students into the first year who did not get an A Grade in the 11+ including some schools with almost as many D grade entrants as A grade. This move to all-ability school is a response to the changing school population.

"However, what this decline in numbers is being most heavily felt in the non-grammar post primary sector with many of these school are struggling to survive. They are losing resources and losing teaching staff making it harder to maintain educational standards.

"What is motivating much of the opposition of these schools to the ending of academic selection and introduction of the new non academic transfer criteria is self-interest of their institutions and not as they claim wanting to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a 'leg up'. Other recent data from the department highlights how many Protestant working class children are being abandoned by this academic segregation.

"In the current academic year 40% of those children eligible to take the transfer test will be admitted to grammar schools - regardless of grades. But the data for children educated in Protestant working class areas show:

  • In the Rathcoole area of Belfast the figure is 15%.
  • In the Sandy Row area of the city the figure is 14%.
  • In the Shankill area of Belfast the figure is 10%.
  • In the Kilcooley area of Bangor the figure is nil.

"We need to start having an honest debate about what is happening within the education system, about who it is failing and we need to look at how we manage the development of a modern education system that delivers the choices and opportunities that our young people need.

"I do not believe that academic selection has any useful role to play in transferring children from primary to post primary school. The sooner we move past this point are start debating how we get our schools working together to push up standards and deliver greater choices the better" ENDS

Note to Editors

School Name Breakdown, by percentage, of pupils' 11 plus grades accepted 2007/08
A B1 B2 C1 C2 D Others Boarders
Bloomfield Collegiate 32 7 29 26 2 4 0 -
Hunterhouse College 22 21 29 24 3 1 0 -
Royal Belfast Academical Institution 46 19 27 5 2 0 1 -
Bangor Grammar 50 20 19 7 1 2 1 -
Cambridge House Grammar 18 10 15 23 19 13 2 -
Coleraine Academical Institution 25 7 16 13 15 21 3 -
Larne Grammar 50 9 14 11 14 0 2 -
The Royal School, Armagh 47 12 15 11 8 7 0 -
The Royal School Dungannon 43 16 12 9 11 8 1 -
Foyle and Londonderry College 50 12 10 11 9 6 2 -
Strabane Grammar 46 16 18 7 7 2 4 -

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