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Is it time Protestant pupils attended Catholic schools?

As someone who left college with barely more than a handful of O-Levels but who went on to take a couple of masters degrees and a PhD, I have sympathy with the Firm Foundations report (News, June 19) into educational underachievement in the Protestant working class.

I would make two points that might be helpful. Firstly, the American military traditionally subjected recruits to intelligence tests so they could spot those with the potential for more demanding roles. The usefulness of IQ tests for working-class children and their parents is that they provide a set of metrics against which a school's performance can usefully be measured.

However, as a member of Mensa for some 30 years, it is also readily apparent that an intelligence test is little more than a measure of potential; those identified with an above-average IQ still need to be developed.

Secondly, as the Northern Ireland state nears its centenary, the Firm Foundations report appears to argue that it is the state-controlled education that is failing working-class Protestant children. Is it time to consider turning to the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools to see if they can achieve a fairer outcome, particularly given that some schools in this sector already have the streaming advocated by the report, and given that this sector outperforms the state-controlled sector.

If nothing else, it would place the state-controlled sector and the politicians that run it on notice that the status quo is no longer acceptable.



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