School Governors must be held to account

Academic selection reinforces privilege and disadvantage

Members of the Board of Governors of local grammar schools should be asked to explain why they continue to support academic selection at 11 despite it being scrapped by the Assembly in 2008 and universally criticised in report after report.

The call comes from Workers Party spokesperson Joanne Lowry, after six local grammar schools – St. Mary’s CBS, St. Dominic’s, Rathmore, St. Malachy’s, Aquinas, and Dominican College – all announced that they would be going ahead with transfer testing, run by private companies, for next year’s intake of pupils.

“School governors are currently using the Covid 19 crisis as a smokescreen behind which they can talk about welcoming the delay in this year’s tests when the realty is that academic selection at 11 is wrong, it doesn’t work and it results in educational disadvantage, particularly for children from working class families”,  Joanne said.

“Numerous reports and studies by bodies ranging from the United Nations to the recent Iliad Report (Investigating Links in Achievement and Deprivation) – undertaken by experts from Queen’s University and Stranmillis University College in Belfast – repeatedly confirm that academic selection reinforces “privilege and disadvantage” and recommend the end of academic selection in Northern Ireland as a key way to reverse educational disadvantage”.

“Some grammar schools have decided to proceed this year without the use of selection tests because Coronavirus makes sitting the tests unsafe. If testing is not needed this year, it is not needed any year.”

All those opposed to academic selection – parents, teachers, trade unions and others – must reignite this debate and campaign for the complete and final abolition of academic selection at 11 – and an explanation from school governors would be a good place to start“, Joanne concluded

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