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11+ - Opponents of change accused of scare mongering

23 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Michael Ferguson MLA has accused the opponents of the ending of the 11+ of scare mongering and said challenged them to produce evidence that an end to academic selection will lead to an end to grammar schools.

Mr Ferguson said:

"The pro-grammar school lobby are peddling a lot of myths about the end of academic selection and the 11+. The fact is that there is no evidence that ending 11+ will lead to the destruction of grammar schools. When people like Bob McCartney are involved in a campaign of misinformation is vital that those who want to see the best opportunities for all of our children speak out.

"The use of academic selection at the age of 10 or 11 through the 11+ fails 80% of our children annually. It brands the majority of our children as failures and has an adverse impact on many in terms of their sense of worth and esteem.

"The perception that grammar schools are the most favoured schools is also incorrect. Three out of the 4 of the most oversubscribed schools are not grammar they are integrated. Already many grammar schools work beyond the 11+ and are coming increasingly all ability and comprehensive in nature as they seek to take pupils of all grades in response to falling rolls.

"What opponents of change are saying is that they what to protect a system that works well for a few but fails the majority. This is not a argument in favour of choice, it is an argument in favour of elitism. We need an education that celebrates and promotes all intelligence and we should prioritise the achievement of all a child‚s abilities and recognise that exams are only one way to measure intelligence.

"What we need is to make every school the best school. This requires investment that is no there at the minute." ENDS

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