Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Exam success exposes Hain's loose thinking

In Business Telegraph (September 4) Peter Hain is quoted as describing the 11-plus as "a tragedy ... and ... an economic disaster for Northern Ireland".

In Business Telegraph (September 4) Peter Hain is quoted as describing the 11-plus as "a tragedy ? and ? an economic disaster for Northern Ireland".

Given that children in Northern Ireland achieve a considerably higher percentage success rate at both GCSE and A Level than in England and Wales (a situation which has existed for many years) and given also that the percentage of children from what is deemed to be a 'working class' background proceeding to higher education is much higher than for England and Wales, is it unreasonable to ask what term he would use to describe the English and Welsh situation?

It must surely be something stronger than "tragedy" or "disaster". He accords the blame for the clearly perilous situation in Northern Ireland to the 11-plus.

What explanation, one wonders, does he give for the statistically verifiable situation (cf. recently published figures for 2006) in England and Wales which must, in terms of his definitions, be well-nigh apocalyptic, to judge by his description of Northern Ireland's position?



The confusion of an inadequate transfer system and the problem of the 11-plus testing with the consistently proven success of a selective system "as a whole" is a piece of loose thinking.

T Desmond Johnston Coleraine

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