Sinn Féin - On Your Side

11+ debate cuts across the 'traditional political' fault lines

24 January, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has said that the11+ debate should not collapse into a nationalist versus unionist political debate. The 11+ system fails between 75- 80% of our children every year and brands them failures. The effect remains with many of them all of their lives and impacts on their self esteem and self worth.

Mr Ferguson challenged the Grammar School lobby fund raising launch yesterday and said that the arguments put forward are 'spurious and untenable'.

Speaking today Mr Ferguson said:

"The 11+ fails between 75-80% of our children every year. Children from all religious, ethnic and gender backgrounds are branded failures, the consequence of which undermines their self esteem and self worth and it cuts across all traditional political fault lines."

"There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that the abolition of the 11+ undermines the existing Grammar School system indeed; it is currently the case that Grammar schools are themselves clamouring to enroll children with lower grades in order to keep their schools economically viable.

"The Grammar School lobby has argued that the Household Survey carried out showed that the vast majority of people support the retention of the 11+ selection system which is completely untrue.

The fact is that only 16% of the 200.000 households surveyed responded and not all of those who did respond supported the 11+ system. Indeed, it is ludicrous to suggest that the vast majority of parents whose children are failed by this system every year would support it."

"The Grammar School lobby have contended that the abolition of the 11+ undermines children's human rights and the quality of education. The greatest threat to the human rights of children is a system that only favours a few and fails the majority impacting on their health and well being.

"The greatest threat to the quality of our education is the current Direct Rule Education Minister and her Government who are cutting the schools budget by £80-100 million between 2005-2008 and calling it 'efficiency savings'."

"If we want to defend and improve our education system then we need a system that supports and improves all of our children and we need a local Assembly with a local accountable Minister to deliver a real budget to support education and learning." ENDS

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