Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Unions don't speak for all

When you get on the wrong side of 50 one tends to find that many of the sureties in life are behind rather than in front of you.

However, one constant (apart from death and taxes) is teachers' union leaders talking rubbish.

The conjoining of the two local teachers' unions is not a marriage made in heaven and parents and pupils will not be advantaged in any way by this move.

I heard the teachers' 'representatives' (not!) claim that they were now all singing from the same hymn sheet and that Caitriona Ruane was their choirmaster as far as the post-11-plus debate was concerned.

The unions claim to represent teachers' views. Hardly. Consider the 2002 household consultation, where respondents were required to identify themselves if they were teachers.

In all, 21,000 out of a total of 22,000 teachers responded (ie 95%).

This represented a census rather than an opinion poll and guess what?

A large majority of teachers supported the retention of academic selection in direct opposition to their unions' position.

During the previous debate, I was persuaded by others that a better, kinder, softer form of academic selection could be devised.

In light of the 'dog's breakfast' that teachers' unions, Ms Ruane and others have helped create and foist upon parents and pupils, I now say (even thought I failed it myself 30-odd years ago): come back 11-plus, all is forgiven.

BRIAN GIBSON

Comber

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