Parents prefer selective education

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A leaked version of a report on education for OFMDM recommends ending of academic selection.

A leaked version of the latest report on education for OFMDM recommends the ending of academic selection.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

The authors are traveling a well-trodden path in which poor achievement in disadvantaged areas is linked to academic selection, apparently regardless of contrary evidence.

Academic underachievement by pupils from poor backgrounds exists in all countries regardless of their education system.

Scotland, with a comprehensive system have admitted that they have failed to solve the problem, Finland, the role model for comprehensive education, have not eliminated the problem and the United States despite draconian policies like busing have also failed.

Non-selection doesn’t stop social inequality it simple creates a different pathway to the same result.

The problem is defined as pupils failing to gain sufficient good GCSE grades. Educational policy has created a system where there is no choice, selective and non-selective do the same examinations whether that suits the pupils or not.

There will always be a normal curve in results with some pupils showing poorer results than others.

The report indicates that results are better where there is community and parental support placing a high value on education.

This result is nothing new. An International ranking report by Pearsons suggested that promoting a culture that is supportive of education is the most important element.

The report said “the success of Asian nations in the rankings reflects the complex impact each society’s attitude toward education has in defining its effectiveness”.

The comparative success of some communities in Northern Ireland reflects this. Where communities don’t see the value of education or the relevance of examinations the results will be the opposite.

The Association for Quality Education which has been running the Common Entrance Assessment since the removal of the 11+ reports that a growing number of children from deprived backgrounds are applying to sit the assessment and a very significant percentage of those sitting the assessment achieve a result that gives access to a grammar school place.

This is a trend that should be encouraged and supported. This disproves the notion that grammar schools seek to exclude children from less affluent backgrounds.

Contrast this with the failed English one-size-fits-all comprehensive model. Those with the resources to choose pay for a house in the catchment areas of the most prestigious schools, buy a private education or rely on faith schools that share their commitment to education.

Those who can’t are often left with large poorly-performing schools. No surprise that in the top 100 performing English comprehensive schools, deprived areas are under-represented and middle class neighbourhoods and faith schools predominate.

Parents have shown that they prefer the selective system, results show it works better, but our policy makers persist in an ideology that has produced more problems than selection ever could.

Let them concentrate on developing system that provides the diversity of pathway, the parental choice and perceived relevance to all sectors that will be the starting point for even better opportunities for all our children.

Gerry Beamish,

Association for Choice in Education, Fermanagh