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“An education system where all children can realise their full potential” - Doherty

2 February, 2009


West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP MLA Pat Doherty says that the primary-post primary transfer guidelines set out today by Education Minister Caitríona Ruane are a crucial element in securing the delivery of a modern education system where all children can realise their full potential.

He said,

"The primary-post primary transfer guidelines set out by Education Minister Caitríona Ruane today signals and end to the days of the 11 plus and the end of an regressive era which saw the educational and life opportunities of children being pre-determined on the arbitrary basis of two one hour tests based on narrowly defined academic criteria which failed to take account of the all-round abilities of each and every child.

"The guidelines, particularly in terms of ensuring that over-subscribed schools would now have an intake of at least 20% of pupils on free school meals is a very progressive measure firmly based on social justice and equality.

"But what Caitríona Ruane has announced is much more than an end to the 11plus and post primary transfer-it is part of a wider transformation of the education system fit for the modern era.

"The Revised Curriculum now to be taught in all primary schools recognises and nurtures the ability of each child and prepares that child in a more holistic way not only for the opportunities and challenges of post primary education but also for the opportunities and challenges of every day life.

"The transformation of the education system at post primary level will also see the provision of the widest possible Curriculum being made available to all children in terms of both academic and vocational subjects and will inject a wide range of choice and flexibility for pupils that has never before been provided.

"To those within political unionism and other vested interests who claim that the system is not broken and therefore does not need fixed could perhaps explain why a majority of 11 year olds in the 6 counties have, for generations, been made to feel like failures at such a young age and explain why less than 35% of our young people progress to third level education in comparison to 72% in the 26 counties.

"There will always be elements within every society who will resist progressive change for one vested reason or another. Forty plus years on from the first Civil Right marches in the 6 counties we still face the challenge of creating a modern education system where all children have equal opportunity to realise their full potential. In spite of the viscous personalised campaign that has been wedged against the Education Minister since she took up office, Caitríona Ruane has shown that she is determined to see this challenge through." ENDS

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