IN a recent Assembly debate to extend the 11-plus tests for three more years Caitriona Ruane rose to great heights of righteous indignation.
Any system, she said, that inherently condemns one child as a failure is wrong. A system that condemns the majority of children as failures at 10 and 11 is an outrage and cannot be sustained or credibly defended. But is what she says really true?
The 11-plus is no underhand move to separate the sheep from the goats, just an honest effort to assign pupils to different learning groups for secondary level education, even though all will have exactly the same curriculum provision whether in a grammar or secondary school.
The common curriculum has not only ensured equal opportunity for all pupils to study all that is on offer, but in connection with the 11-plus categories, it has allowed schools to fine-tune provision to accommodate the different capabilities among pupils in their care.
It is good practice which has resulted in more pupils than ever obtaining good GCSE grades. With such success it is difficult to comprehend how grouping by ability on a province-wide basis leads to failure.
Mrs Ruane trumpets failure instead of accepting examination results and commending teachers’ and pupils’ efforts to meet and even improve upon Government targets for GCSE passes. She engages in emotional pleas instead of rational argument. Is her position on this matter any more credible than the system she condemns?