General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Education Minister rejects calls to enter talks on transfer issue


3rd November 2009

Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has rejected calls to join cross-party talks on school transfer tests, branding them an attempt to save academic selection.


The Sinn Fein minister faced questions in the Assembly yesterday from rival parties calling on her to take part in their discussions on finding an alternative to the minister's immediate scrapping of the 11-plus test.

The talks were instigated after the Belfast Telegraph launched its Sit Down, Sort It Out campaign, encouraging all political parties to work together to find a solution to the transfer debacle.

But Ms Ruane said removal of the exam was long overdue and she produced a 45-year-old newspaper clipping promising 11-plus reform by the then unionist-dominated Stormont government.

The minister said she had put transfer arrangements in place and told the Assembly there was no future for an exam she said discriminated against children.

“I had to take action. I am the Minister of Education for all children, not just a small minority,” she said. “I have to make sure that all our children are treated with equality and with respect.

“The 11-plus is gone, the 11-plus is not coming back, nor is any alternative in terms of examining children.

“There is no need for the testing of children. It does not happen in the rest of Ireland at 10 years of age, it doesn't happen in England, Scotland or Wales and it doesn't happen throughout Europe and the United States.

“Now, please, let's not waste any more time on this issue.”




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