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Reveal post-11-plus plans Ruane urged


03/03/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

Education minister Caitriona Ruane must provide more detail about her plans for post-primary education to help teachers prepare for what is coming, SDLP education spokesman Dominic Bradley said.

He issued the call at the northern conference of the Irish National Teachers' Or-ganisation held in Newry.

The assembly education committee member supports the Sinn Fein minister's decision to scrap the 11-plus but he said the confusion around post-primary education had been exacerbated by a lack of information from Ms Ruane about the alternative system she was putting in place.

"Key information necessary to assess the planned change has not been available when sought and has been forthcoming only at the last minute," Mr Bradley said.

"Still now, important policies pivotal to the minister's proposals are still being kept under wraps even though time is running out and it

is not only the man and woman in the street who is complaining.

"Some of the main education providers are expressing their anxieties at the lack of information.

"In particular we need to see the detail of the minister's Sustainable Schools policy which will be the bedrock of area-based planning.

"Consultation on this policy ended last Easter and yet we still do not have sight of the policy.

"Neither do we have sight of the policy on area-based planning itself, which is the lynchpin of the minister's proposals.

"Time is of the essence here and education providers need to start planning."

Mr Bradley said there was confusion among the public.

"People simply want to know what is happening. Parents want to know what the future holds," he said.

"They want to know how education in their local area will be organised and how change will affect their child.

"Teachers want to know how change will affect their schools and education providers want the tools, the policies needed to bring about change.

"People are asking if the educational estate can accommodate the minister's proposals in the short term.

"Can schools be reorganised to fit the minister's proposals in the time available?

"The main cause of contention still remains around the transfer from primary to post-primary schools.

"There is still a lack of clarity around this issue and until election at age 14 is properly provided for it looks very much like the focus will remain on transfer at age 11 for the foreseeable future."



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