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Parents and teachers air views on selection


Parents and teachers air views on selection
11/04/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: News Letter

Concerned parents and teachers were among those who attended a special meeting in Ballymena last night to discuss the future of education in the Province - and more specifically, future transfer provisions following the proposed scrapping of the 11-plus.

The meeting, which took place in the Leighinmohr House Hotel, was the fourth in a series of information events planned by the DUP in their bid to seek opinion on the ground as regards the abolishment of the transfer test.

The exam is due to be phased out this year after Education Minister Caitriona Ruane announced last December that it was to be scrapped. She is yet to confirm what will replace it.

Education Committee chairman Sammy Wilson spoke at the meeting, which was also attended by North Antrim DUP MLA Mervyn Storey.

Mr Storey said that the main focus of the meeting was to inform parents and teachers as to what was happening, as he said that "every day that goes past continues to build on their concern, frustration and anger".

He said that it was also an opportunity to hear first-hand how the matter was being dealt with by the DUP.

"Taking into account the review of primary school provision in Ballymena being undertaken by North Eastern Education and Library Board, it is vital we hear the views of parents and those involved in education," he said.

He said that he had already met with primary school principals in the area and listened to their concerns, as well has having had meetings with boards of governors.

"This is just an ongoing process of listening to what people have to say, but also taking the opportunity to inform them of the DUP's perspective of the situation," he said.

"That perspective is that we have an Education Minister who persists in governing a situation of confusion and continues to fail as far as bringing forward a policy of support.

"That was why we as a party decided that we would put into the public domain our own proposals as to how we see this process being resolved, and obviously people will want to have sight of that."

Earlier this week, the DUP launched a strategy paper outlining their proposal for a system to replace the 11-plus.

This, the party's education spokesman Sammy Wilson said, would mean that unless there was agreement on a way forward in the Assembly, grammar schools would decide on some form of academic selection.

"Those schools that wish to use academic selection should be free to set their own common entrance test or indeed use their own bespoke entrance test," he said.

Meetings similar to that held in Ballymena last night have already taken place in Lisburn, Larne, and Carrickfergus. There are also meetings planned for Newtow-nards and east Belfast.

The full article contains 475 words and appears in News Letter newspaper.



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