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Teachers slam 'anti-learning' schools policy


Teachers slam 'anti-learning' schools policy
29/02/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Belfast Telegraph

A leading teachers' union yesterday criticised Northern Ireland's hard-hitting proposed new school improvement policy claiming it was produced "without one iota of consultation" with teachers' representatives.

Delegates at the Irish National Teachers Organisation's northern conference in Newry's Canal Court Hotel were told that the "preoccupation with testing, data, statistics and league tables" was contributing to the problem of thousands of pupils leaving school every year without basic literacy and numeracy skills.

Mary Cahillane, chair of INTO's northern committee, said: "The preoccupation with trying to improve statistics is not improving and will not improve the standard of education.

"INTO will vigorously oppose the written publication and gradation of schools on a 1-6 performance level basis as proposed by the Education and Training Inspectorate and enshrined in Every School a Good School."

Ms Cahillane described the document as "draconian".

"All the worst features of the failed UK policies such as special measures, the blame and sack teachers culture, sacking principals, sacking governors, closing schools are all contained in Every School a Good School. And it contains the double whammy of double inspections.

"Every proposal in the policy document is to be measured in data, comparisons, statistics, inputs and outputs. It is the antithesis of what education is about."

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane announced details of the Every School a Good School policy last month. She described it as " a new, pupil-centred policy with equality and improvement at its heart".

Meanwhile, the INTO has also supported the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' call for a pause to the review of public administration process in education. The new Education and Skills Authority is to replace the five education boards from April 2009.

"We are going too fast," Ms Cahillane claimed.

"We are not opposed to change but we are opposed to change at breakneck speed and without meaningful consultation."



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