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McGuinness welcomes end of academic selection

26 January, 2004

Former Education Minster Martin McGuinness MP MLA has welcomed the announcement that his decsion to abolish the 11 + is to stand but expressed disappointment at the 2008 target date. Mr McGuinness also paid tribute to the Costello working group.

Mr McGuinness said:

"I very much welcome this report from the Costello working group. I am pleased that this highly experienced working party has recommended that the 11+ should be abolished and that this recommendation has been accepted.

"Equality must be at the heart of education. The reality is that academic selection for some means academic rejection for the majority of our children. It is a system, which is fundamentally unfair.

"A system, which designates any 11-year-old child, a failure is fundamentally flawed and must be replaced. That is why as education Minister I took the decision to end the 11 +. I am delighted that this decision will now be acted on.I believe all children must be given the opportunity to succeed, regardless of their background or circumstances.

"I am a little disappointed that it will take until 2008 to definitively end the 11+ but that is balanced by the sensible suggestion that all of this could happen much quicker if more parents choose not to put their child forward for the exam in the mean time and grammar schools move away from selection as a method for enrolling pupils.

"We now need to see the new arrangements put in place which will deliver both a modern education system and equality of opportunity for all our children."

Editors Note: Mr McGuinness will meet with Jane Kennedy at 3pm this afternoon at Castle Buildings to discuss the outcome of the Costello Report

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