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Education Minster must tackle uncertainty surrounding 11+

5 November, 2004

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Newry Armagh MLA Davy Hyland, speaking as children prepare to sit the 11+ transfer test, has said that putting the final date for the scrapping of the 11+ off until 2008 date is creating uncertainty and confusion.

Mr Hyland said:

"The uncertainty created by handling of the 11+ by successive British direct rule Education Ministers has been bad for parents and children and led to uncertainty in the different education sectors. By putting the final date for the scrapping of the 11+ off until 2008, NIO Education Ministers have created the space to allow those who support academic rejection of children at 11 the space to peddle their myths and lies.

"It is clear that we need urgent progress on what will replace the 11+ so that we can support the fast forward developments across the post primary sector to bring in greater certainty to teachers, parents and children.

"The most common myth peddled those who support academic rejection at 11 is that it provides a ladder to success for working class and disadvantaged children. But the truth is that the removal of academic selection will not deprive bright, disadvantaged pupils of the opportunity of a first-rate education. Only 8% of pupils in grammar schools come from low-income families.

"Transfer test results show that the children from privileged backgrounds are 4 times more likely to achieve a grade A in the 11+ than the most disadvantaged of our children. Hardly making a good case for academic selection.

"The worst results in the 11+ are in state schools with high levels of free school meals in working class Protestant areas - in the Shankill less than 2% of pupils achieved a grammar school place. That is a damning statistic. The system is not helping the working class and it is certainly not helping children from working class Protestant families. Those who support academic rejection from unionist parties must ask themselves why they support a system that fails children most in need from within their own community." ENDS

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