General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Excellence in education should be available to all


19 /01/09

Department of Education

Education Minister, Caitríona Ruane, has said that every school should strive for excellence for young people.

The Minister was speaking at an event hosted by St Colman’s College, Newry, to celebrate the presentation of an excellence award.

The Minister said: I congratulate St Colman’s on receiving this award in recognition of the excellent work done for the young people at the school.

“As Minister I believe every child and young person should have access to excellence in education. I am working on a programme of progressive reforms that aim to improve the educational experiences for all in our schools.

“One of my key proposals is to end academic selection, which is clearly against the most basic principles of social justice. Children should not suffer the disgraceful injustice of an education system based on academic apartheid, academic rejection and academic inequality.

“For the majority of our children, academic selection means academic rejection. Any system that condemns and stigmatises as failures the majority of 11 year old children is wrong. Concern for the 11 year old children designated as failures features nowhere in support for academic apartheid.

“We need a system that delivers for all our children. A system which builds on the individual strengths that every single one of our children possesses, whatever that strength or talent is. The singular focus on academic ability must be replaced by a focus on talents and aptitudes.

“I am determined that our new education system will give every child a fair chance. Those who defend a system of academic apartheid abandoned in so many areas of the world are not interested in children or their education. They need to ask themselves the question – are they putting children’s needs first? They cannot and will not take responsibility for those who have been failed and condemned by the system that they defend.

“I am impatient to see change which delivers for all our children and allows each of them to develop their individual strengths and talents. That is the challenge we face.

“I have attempted to build a consensus for the proposals I published last year and to establish a firm legislative base. However, I have a duty to parents, teachers and children who want to know how transfer will happen in 2010. If I do not receive political agreement I will act and issue guidance to schools.”


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