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Education for those of different talents

Ed Curran is correct in his criticism of Education Minister Caitriona Ruane (September 29) that she is ‘engaged in the complete meltdown and remoulding of the existing secondary school system’.

The minister repeats constantly the unproven assertion that under-achievement in the bottom 30% of pupils in second level education is caused by selection and the predominant role of grammar schools in Northern Ireland (also leaders in the United Kingdom in attainment.)

She believes that inequality in attainment of this cohort of children can be redeemed by new structures, the removal of selective grammar schools and spending extra money in added tuition.

There is no evidence in the UK or the US that such intervention programmes have lasting effects.

There are many reasons for adolescent under-achievement as measured by GCSE grades, but the most salient is that thousands of our children are intellectually incapable of mastering the abstractions in academic studies.

This does not mean that many of these children do not excel in pursuits where they are self-motivated, such as line-dancing, hair-dressing, sport, motorcycle maintenance, calf-rearing, tractor driving et alia.

Grammar schools should continue their excellent work and non-academic children in the secondary sector should have a curriculum linked to employment. Most of their schooldays should be spent in the workplace.

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George McNally


Belfast Telegraph


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