Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Stormont has let our children down

Around 7,000 primary school children have been sitting the first paper of the new entrance examinations today, and this is something which should not have been necessary.

The whole system is in a mess with some pupils taking one - or more than one - test at different times, and some not taking any at all.

This has added to the pressure on the children, on their parents and on their teachers in an exercise that was entirely avoidable.

There was ample time for all concerned to come to some workable agreement and uniformity, but sadly this has proved impossible.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the complex arguments on all sides, it is clear that the authorities have themselves failed to pass the most basic test of helping the children to move forward on the path of education with as few worries and disruptions as possible.

To add to the confusion and chaos, Education Minister Caitriona Ruane - while wishing the pupils well - has taken the wholly unrealistic step of asking the grammar schools, at the very last minute, to reconsider their course of action.

She and her colleagues must have known that, given the timing and the controversy surrounding the issue that this was a totally impractical suggestion which appears to be nothing more than an empty political gesture.

Whatever the outcome of the current tests this year it is abundantly clear that the Stormont political system has let down the children badly, as well as their parents and their teachers.

Even with a modicum of "grown-up politics" this is a day in the educational calendar which simply should not have happened.

Our children deserve much better and this educational nonsense must be all sorted out well before this time next year.

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