Education report into Protestant children's underachievement can't be shelved, says PUP
The author of a new Progressive Unionist Party report into educational underachievement among Protestant working class children says the findings of the study must not be allowed to gather dust on the Government's shelf.
Dr John Kyle, a Belfast city councillor, called for politicians and educationalists to act on 20 proposals to tackle what he has called 'shocking and scandalous' problems in Protestant communities.
The report claims that the underachievement was one of the factors which sparked the violence surrounding the loyalist flags protests several years ago.
The proposals include the scrapping of academic selection at the age of 11 and major improvements to early years education and to parental and community involvement in schools, with more governors recruited from working class areas.
The report also calls for grammar school places to be capped at 35% of the total of post-primary pupils and more intensive scrutiny of how principals and teachers perform.
Dr Kyle told the Belfast Telegraph it was essential to keep the spotlight on the problems of educational underachievement.
"The danger is that politicians will take their eye off the ball and let it drift out of view," he said.
"But the report places the issue front and centre of the political debate.
"The report also calls on local communities and parents to be more engaged and to realise that they have a vital role in the education of their children.
"Education mustn't any longer be a no-go area for parents who themselves might have had a negative experience of school and they need to embrace it for the benefit of their children.
"It's also imperative that resources are better managed in times of financial restraint."