Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

What will these changes mean for our children?

It IS good to see the Catholic Church in the north come out recently with a number of major statements in regards to the schooling of our children.

A few weeks ago we had the statement from the Cardinal explaining how the church intends bringing an end to testing children of 10 and 11 for transfer to post-primary schools.

Last week we saw the beginning of the consultation on the implementation of this policy in Belfast with a number of proposals for the merging and amalgamation of grammar and non-grammar post primaries.

I have no doubt that, with the changing demographics, the increase in gaelscolaíocht and the further expansion of the integrated sector, we are on the crest of some very interesting times in the education sector.

There will, it seems, be school closures. What will these proposals mean for the post-primary sector in Belfast? What will they mean for the teachers? For the historical and social links with local communities? Most importantly, what will it mean for children?

Hopefully we can move to a more equitable, more successful system of post-primary education, on a par, say, with our southern kin.

The immoral testing of our nine, 10 and 11-year-old children must now end.

Hopefully, the process started by Education Minister Ruane, coupled with the agreed progressive proposals emanating from the CCMS sector, we will begin to see the emergence of an education system fit for purpose for the 21st century.

MARIE DOOLEY

Belfast

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