Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Unionists will not stop progress on education reform

1 June, 2006

Sinn Fein Education Spokesperson Michael Ferguson MLA has said that DUP sabre rattling over the retention of academic selection should be ignored.

Mr Ferguson said:

"The battle over the removal of academic selection has been won. The 11+ was a system that enforced social segregation and branded the majority of our children failures. The only failure was the system itself.

"It is difficult to understand why the DUP's Sammy Wilson ignores the fact that the poorest results in the 11+ is in controlled schools with high levels of free school meals serving working class Protestant areas. In some working class Protestant areas a grammar school place is beyond the reach of almost all pupils - in the Shankill for example, less than 2% of pupils achieved a grammar school place. 98% of the children from this community are failed by the 11+ procedures.

"The system is not serving the working class and it is certainly not serving children from working class Protestant families. It is hardly surprising that some community activists have questioned the position of Unionist Assembly Members representing Protestant areas who appear to be content with a system of academic selection that denies educational opportunities to their own constituents.

"As Sinn Fein's Education Spokesperson I met with the new British Direct Rule Education Minister last week at Hillsborough and reinforced the feelings of the majority of educationalists, trade unionists and the other political parties that education reform and the scrapping of the 11+ should be introduced as quickly as possible. No one should give in sabre rattling from the DUP. If the DUP want to get involved in addressing education matters then they should join with us and elect local accountable ministers instead of issuing threats." ENDS

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