Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Call to end 11 plus misery

9 November, 2006

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff has called for a clear statement on the future transfer arrangements and demanded an end to the 11 plus misery faced by thousands of children.

Speaking ahead of the 11 plus examinations tomorrow morning Mr McElduff said:

"The issue of the 11 plus will soon be confirmed to the dustbin of history. However, the total mishandling of the situation by successive British direct rule Education Ministers, who have deliberately turned the education of our young people into a political football, has created confusion.

"No one should be under any illusion or indeed be mislead by the misinformation being generated by the pro-grammar school lobby. The 11 plus will be gone by 2008.

"The 11 plus was abolished by Sinn Féin Education Minister Martin McGuinness, not on a whim but because the 11 plus deepened educational inequality and disadvantage.

"It is insane to have an 'all on the day' exam for children of 11 and often as young as ten and a half. How can it possibly be appropriate to determine a child's in that way? The 11 plus places huge pressures not just children but also on parents and teachers. It is deeply unfair and also has a distorting effect on the curriculum.

"The Department has laid out the criteria that will govern transfer arrangements between primary and secondary schools after 2008. These criteria do not include any element of academic selection. However, if the Assembly is restored by 24 November 2006, an amendment introduced into the Education Order by the British government means that a vote will be required to actually outlaw academic selection.

"Branding any child a failure at the age of 11 is wrong. Branding the majority of our children as failures at age 11 is as unacceptable. Academic selection for the minority means academic rejection for the majority.

"Some claim that the selective education system provides a ladder up for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Only 28 per cent of children who attend secondary schools receive free school meals. Far from bridging the social and economic divide, the present arrangements perpetuate it." ENDS

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