Newry and Mourne Council asked to support ending of 11+
Sinn Féin Newry and Mourne Council Group are seeking the Council's support for the Minister of Education's decision to end the 11+ this year and welcoming her determination to end academic selection and manage the transition to the provision of academic excellence for all children.
Sinn Féin Councillor Brendan Curran stated that while many people over the last six months had worked hard to assemble a consensus amongst the educational stakeholders and that there was a belief that nearly 90% of the 228 post-primary schools would embrace the Ministers proposals, that barriers imposed on Minister Caitriona Ruane from informing parents and teachers in writing of her Departments plans for the transfer of primary school pupils to post-primary education in 2010 and following years, had to be removed.
"It is important that there is a concise, clear and united message of support for the ending of the 11+ and the current reforms and policies being progressed by the Minister from this Council is voiced from Newry and Mourne Council" said Brendan.
His colleague south Down Councillor Mick Murphy also speaking in support of his Party's motion said that as recent as last week Education Minister Caitriona Ruane continuing her ongoing consultation with key education partners had met with post-primary principals from the south Down area.
"Since becoming Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has ensured that there has been maximum consultation with all the key education partners. This meeting was one of a series of school visits, public and private meetings and conferences The Minister has adhered to her commitment to ensure that she has heard a wide range of viewpoints."
Cllr Murphy also said that he shared the disappointment of many that the Minister was being obstructed from informing all parents and teachers clearly in writing about her proposals.
Commenting on the current proposals he explained:
"The essence of the proposals is that the last 11+ Transfer Test will take place this year. In 2010 children will transfer under the new arrangements to post-primary schools at 11 on the basis of non academic admission criteria.
"The new criteria will mean that children will transfer to their post primary school on the basis of Geography (Parish, Catchment Area, Nearest Suitable School; Family Criteria (Currently attending sibling only, Eldest/First child); Community (Feeder Primary School); and Tie-breakers.
"To facilitate transition schools can apply for the option of admitting by academic selection on a limited basis (Bilateral schools). This will operate until 2013 and on a declining basis.
"In 2010 Bilateral Schools will be permitted to select up to 50% of intake using a revised standard test drawn up by the Council for Curriculum, Examination and Assessment (CCEA). The following year this will be reduced to 30% and the next year 20%.
"Any such exam will be designed to ensure that it does not distort or impact on the teaching of the Revised Curriculum in primary schools; the remainder of intake will be based on non-academic admissions criteria. By 2013 all children will transfer to post-primary schools at 11 on the basis of non-academic admission criteria.
"By 2013 all children will make informed choices at age 14 and avail of the full benefits of the new Entitlement Framework. A targeted programme of school improvement will be rolled out to ensure that every school is a good school."
Note to Editors
Newry and Mourne Council Motion
That Newry and Mourne District Council welcomes the Minister of Education's decision to end the 11+ this year and her determination to end academic selection and manage the transition to the provision of academic excellence for all children and responding to the fears and concerns of parents and teachers calls for the removal of barriers blocking the Minister of Education, Catriona Ruane, MLA, from informing parents and teachers clearly in writing of her Department's plans for the transfer of primary school pupils to post-primary education in 2010 and following years.