Another small move towards an all-island education approach

Morning View
Morning View

On many occasions over the years, particularly in recent months, the News Letter and writers on these pages have been issuing warnings about something gravely serious that is happening in the education system in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein is determinedly trying to introduce an education system that is, in effect, aligned on an all-island basis, and that is a comprehensive system.

This means two obvious things: the abolition of our grammar schools, perhaps by oblique methods, so that a system that has led to reduced social mobility in England comes in here (just at the time that the English are so concerned about how their elite is dominated by ex private school pupils since they got rid of grammars).

It also means in one of the most important cultural aspects of day-to-day life in Northern Ireland, Britishness is severely undermined.

There is a long tradition in the Province of pupils attending universities in Great Britain. Many of them return to the Province, having broadened their horizons by studying in another part of the UK. Many other pupils have the same enriching experience studying in the Republic.

Others choose to stay home at our excellent local universities.

None of those choices is any better than the other.

But allowing the grading system for GCSEs to be separate from England makes it harder for universities there to assess Northern Irish pupils, as it is intended to do. Stephen Elliott, who writes here, predicted as much in the News Letter last year.

It emerged yesterday that the two largest English GCSE exam boards, AQA and OCR, are pulling out of GCSE provision here.

This is a serious development, and as was predicted. It is time for our grammar schools and for MLAs who oppose what is being done to our education system to speak up much more forcefully than they have done to date.