Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Why Ruane has insight into failings of selection

Letters to the editor should be sent to: 124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast BT1 1EB. E-mail: writeback@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

I have read the full text of Caitriona Ruane's statement on reform of our education system and find it informed by a deep insight into the crippling deficiencies of the present arrangements which fail our children in their thousands.

It describes clearly an enlightened, egalitarian educational vision which has the potential fundamentally to boost the attainment of all, not just the few. Ruane's educational vision is based on a wide range of equally resourced, equally esteemed, high-quality, post-primary choices for all children. Education for children rather than children for schools; that is radical, that is perfect!

I have heard the criticisms of those with a vested interest in academic selection at 11, but they should not retreat into this predictable lager. Ruane's vision contains real promise for them as well.

The reassessment of all aspects of the post-primary system will provide a perfect opportunity for the abolition of the grades race and the reinstatement of education of which we in Northern Ireland were once justly proud.

As a university scientist who has watched the slide in literacy and numeracy in students with good A-level grades, including students with grammar school education, any such reassessment will be welcome. It is now incumbent on our elected representatives temporarily to forget political allegiances and to give this vision the complete cross party support it so clearly merits. Prove to the electorate that the new political structures are capable of building a new future. Prove you are capable of looking forward as well as back.

John McCloskey Professor of Geophysics, University of Ulster

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