As P7 children across Cookstown sat the first of their academic selection tests on Saturday (Nov 9) a teaching union has described as ‘vacuous’ the pro-grammar school arguments for its continued existence.
Cookstown man Stephen McCord, President of the province’s biggest locally-based teaching union, the Ulster Teachers’ Union, urged the Education Minister to heed the hundreds of thousands across Ireland who have already stated their opposition to the transfer tests.
“The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has already launched a campaign to end academic selection here, yet in Northern Ireland we have a grammar school lobby which insists on vacuous arguments to flog a system whose support, it seems, is shrinking in ever decreasing circles
“How long can the pro-selection lobby trade on its pretence of so-called academic grammar school elitism?
“By the very fact of our shrinking school age population, grammar schools are now scrambling to fill their desks with children who some years ago they would have consigned to the ‘failure’ of a secondary school education.
“How long can they trade on academic superlatives when – thanks to the Entitlement Framework - all our children now have access to the same choice of exams and sit the same papers whether their school is called a grammar school, high school, secondary school or college?
“It would seem that all the grammar school lobby is being left with is an empty, anachronistic title. It is time that this divisive, destructive system is consigned to history so all our children compete on a level playing field. “