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Transfer system limbo is ‘unacceptable’ to church

By Alf McCreary

Published 05/06/2009

The Presbyterian Assembly has agreed on a series of resolutions expressing the church's “grave concern” and “dismay” over education proposals for Northern Ireland.

The Reverend Trevor Gribben, deputy clerk of the General Assembly, told the Assembly yesterday that “an unregulated system of transfer within Northern Ireland is something that is simply unacceptable and represents a failure in good governance”.

Referring to the ongoing row on how to replace the |11-plus, he said that the victims of a failure to establish consensus included children who face not fewer but more tests, and parents, teachers and governors who want to do their best but have been left feeling insecure.

Rev Gribben added: “Secondary non-selective schools, particularly in the controlled sector, are having to cope with falling numbers and a sense of abandonment.

“The results of this ideological war will be a society further divided, and an educational community ripped asunder because consensus has not been built.”

Referring to special education needs provision, he said: “It is simply unacceptable that the development of educational provision for some of the more vulnerable children in our society is frustrated by infantile party politicking by adults elected to what is a legislative assembly.”

The Assembly expressed its appreciation, however, to the political parties for “recognising the long standing of the Transferring Churches to nominate governors for controlled schools, and for advocating, on the basis of fairness and equality, that these rights should remain”.

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