Grammar school supporters must resist SF onslaught

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The letters that have been sent to 11 primary schools by the Department of Education are clearly an attempt to intimidate those schools.

They are, as the Ulster Unionist education spokesman Danny Kinahan says, a warning.

The letters are an attempt to bully schools that are rightly doing the best for their pupils, by trying to get them into the best publicly funded schools in the United Kingdom.

Sinn Fein are waging a war of attrition against Northern Ireland’s selective schools.
They know that it will be difficult merely to abolish grammars, so they are attacking them in roundabout ways, via curriculums and other approaches (such as these letters).

They will succeed in their campaign to destroy grammar schools if supporters of such schools react in the relatively relaxed way that they did to the attempt to abolish Portadown and Lurgan Colleges.

There is no doubt that the plan to merge Portora Royal and Enniskillen Collegiate is being used by John O’Dowd ultimately to abolish academic selection in Fermanagh.

He starts by picking off schools in the west of the Province, but will be moving steadily towards destroying such schools in the greater Belfast area.

On the opposite page, the Labour MP Kate Hoey gives a cogent analysis of what is happening: both the sectarianism in promoting a tiny Irish language school in Dungiven while trying to abolish Collegiate in Enniskillen, and the ongoing bid to dismantle outstanding schools such as the one that Ms Hoey attended, Belfast Royal Academy (which, as she points out, has a highly mixed intake in terms of religious background).

Kate Hoey is well placed to comment on the disastrous education system in England, in which selection based on ability has been replaced by selection based on wealth.

This is coming to Northern Ireland and fast, if Sinn Fein (supported by the SDLP, albeit less zealously) gets its way.

It will be both a tragedy and a scandal if they succeed.