Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

There is an answer to education crisis

The present furore over transfer tests in education, causing anxiety to pupils, parents and teachers is most distressing, and, I believe, unnecessary.

I write as a retired teacher who spent all my teaching years until retirement in various types of schools in the secondary area.

Children have an amazing range of talents and abilities. All should feel equally valued and all should be encouraged to reach their full potential and find their place in society.

Making testing public, as happens now, and having it the deciding factor of the crucial path to a particular school, is undesirable and the basis of parents' anxiety.

Grouping of pupils in classes of similar ability happens quietly and naturally without stress within all schools at every level under the guidance of teachers with the co-operation of parents and pupils.

The Minister of Education needs to establish a sound school policy to be adopted by all schools, while respecting their traditions. It would determine what our schools would provide. Buildings could no doubt be adapted. In my scheme, children aged 11 and over would move into a reasonably large, all-ability year-group.

Here they would be streamed, for the comfort of all, into sets of similar ability.

Slow learners are happy being taught with other slower pupils who need patient explanations. Similarly, if all in the group are of a reasonably high ability, no one is bored or held back.

Every class in these year-groups would do the core subjects of English, Mathematics, a second language and IT. Another six subjects would be offered from a wide range of groupings - some academic, some practical, some technical.

During the following years, it would be obvious what type of education, at what level, would be appropriate for each pupil. Then, post 13+, a variety of schools would be available.

Pupils would move naturally, with teacher guidance into GCSE areas leading to A-levels and further education, or to the world of work.

RETIRED TEACHER

Belfast

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