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SDLP backflip on academic selection evident

15 February, 2010 - by John O'Dowd

Sinn Fein education spokesperson John O’Dowd has challenged the SDLP to state where exactly they stand on education reform and the ending of academic selection and how their policy in this issue has changed over the past two years

This follows the SDLP endorsing the reintroduction of testing at 11.

Speaking today Mr O’Dowd said:

“The SDLP and their education spokesperson Dominic Bradley just do not know where to stand on the issue of academic selection following their acceptance of a proposal for the reintroduction of a state sponsored test for 11 year olds.

“They have no clear and consistent position on this issue and have provided no leadership. Instead they have sought to gain party political points.

“If we reflect on what Dominic Bradley stated when the Education Minister, Caitriona Ruane proposed  in May 2008 the phasing out of the 11+ over a three year period a process which would of had  a guaranteed outcome of ending selection he stated that it was a ‘climb down’ and that:

“The minister has caved into pressure from those who are opposed to reform.
This decision is the thin end of the wedge for the continuation of the 11-Plus into the future and is an indication of the minister's failure to carry through reform."

Yet now his comments are:

“We are now moving towards some version of the temporary testing regime which Education Minister Caitriona Ruane herself proposed in 2008.”

“Does Dominic Bradley and the SDLP really believe that, following their proposal for the reintroduction of so called ’temporary testing’, the unionist parties will suddenly be compelled to do away with their support for the 11+ and academic selection? The fact is there is no plan or intention under the proposals backed by Mr Bradley to end selection.

“The public will certainly see through this reversal of policy from the SDLP and judge them on their lack of education policy and foresight. Certainly Sinn Féin don’t have to make the arguments against the SDLP, they do for themselves.”


The comments by Dominic Bradley, the SDLP spokesperson on Education can be found at:

Incidentally they do now not appear in the SDLP’s news archives on the party’s website.

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