18/11/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


18/11/2012

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest political news, interviews and debate including conservative party chairman Grant Shapps and shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.


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And in Northern Ireland, it is four years since the 11-Plus was

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abolished so why are thousands of children still sitting a transfer

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2379 seconds

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test? We hear from the Education Hello and welcome to Sunday

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politics in Northern Ireland. Another weekend of transfer tests

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for children across the country, we ask the Education Minister if it is

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failing when it is come to phasing out selection.

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Jim Allister used his party's conference in Cookstown to launch

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attacks on Sinn Fein and DUP, and joining us to discuss education and

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more, Sir Ken Bloomfield with David Lambon and the former principal of

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Ashfield Girls, Adeline Dinsmore. It is four years since the 11-Plus

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was abolished but yesterday 7,000 pupils at one of the two transfer

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tests. The number of children taking the unofficial Tests

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increased this year and that is despite pressure from the Education

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Minister and the Catholic Church to phase out selection. Is it time to

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take stock and consider reintroducing a single Test as some

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are suggesting? The Education Minister John O'Dowd is with us now.

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Minister, good morning. Thank you for joining us. The Ulster

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Unionists have suggested he should use one agreed test for a two year

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period to buy yourself time to resolve the issue. Good idea?

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That is a retrograde step. This debate did not start four years ago,

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it started 50 years ago and on every occasion where a compromise

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was offered, they have avoided dealing with the main issue. There

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is no need for academic selection in this day. I do not know how you

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verify the those figures of more figures taking the test this year

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than previous years. The fat is I do not know where regulation comes

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in. Speculation in the media that many children sit both sets of

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Tests soap in my it point all of you, a selection test is

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unnecessary. A 1% rise in the demand for Test in the same time

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that the... Over the past four years, the figures have gone up 5%.

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I do not know how close the figures are verified but I think one of

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these tests is a necessary. It is not about the established --

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establishing the ability of the child. A test at that age will not

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establish the ability of any child. If we are serious about progress in

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the young people through educational pathways into adulthood

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and moving on, the way of doing that is through an increasing

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education system. The majority of our post primary schools do that

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but we never look at those children who are not sitting the tests and

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their parents are as influential as anyone else and those schools that

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do not set selective tests are as influential as those that do set

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test. I do not know whether we will solve the issue of whether they are

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a good or bad idea so let's not attempt to do that but let's try to

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pick our way forward from the position we are in now which is a

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difficult one. You wanted to get rid of selection and you actually

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were not able to do that because like it or not, selection is

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continuing and the question you must answer as minister for

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education is where do we go from here? You do not like selection but

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people like Sir Ken Bloomfield and those who are part of the grammar

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school system want it to continue. We must answer the first question

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before moving on to the second. you have moved on and scrapped it

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before you have answered that. have to establish whether you need

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academic selection for good education? Those leading the

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economy is tell us we do not. Why do we continue it? Because a

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minority of schools insist that they do it. And if I look at the

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figures available to my department, many accepted that all the pupils

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who applied to them, those that used tests. It is a clever

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marketing device. All schools now teach to the same curriculum and

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have to become tied to the framework will stop good education

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to the young people is for the good of them. How do you stop the

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grammar schools' continuing with selection despite your insistence

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that it is not a good idea? They do not accept that. And how do you

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deal with the parents to put their Were have to convince parents that

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there is no need for selective systems. But 64 percentage of

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children in p 7 by doing the tests this year. In may be that some kids

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to both sets of exams but as I understand these figures are

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official. Constantly the media tell me that children are sitting five

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tests but if they are doing that they have to do the double exams

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but let's concentrate on the main issue. Many children do not put

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their children through the test. Many pupils do not sit a test and

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there are many schools out there providing excellent education which

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do not have tests. By that is not a problem, the problem is the

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school's wedded to selection. ignore that section of our

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education system with this debate, and we do not talk about education

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in its totality of. Education is about this, not asking in charge at

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the age of 11... It is about asking them how they are clever and then

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putting them in school. What do you say to people like Sir Ken

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Bloomfield to persuade him that he has got it wrong? With respect to

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him, we will never agree with this. He has his bees and I have mine but

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what we need to do is this is those parents who do have concerns about

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the future of education about how they will receive a quality

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education and we must convince those that a non-selective system

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can work and indeed does with in many schools. Let's broaden the

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debate. With as to discuss the situation further, Sir Ken

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Bloomfield from the Association for Quality Education and the principal

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of St Malachy's, David Lambon and the former principal of Ashfield

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Girls, Adeline Dinsmore. Sir Ken Bloomfield, what do you say in

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response to the Minister in that you do not need to be doing what

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you're doing within that part of the community who believe in

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selection. Get rid of it. I think I would say quite a lot of things in

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response to what the Minister has said. This is not just about

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education, this is about democracy. The origin of all this process

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began back in 2000 when the Labour government of the day, as you know,

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wanted to abolish academic selection forever. They then, at a

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later stage, did an unusual thing and said that part of this bill

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that would abolish academic selection forever would not go

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forward if we had devolution. Why did they do that? Because they knew

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very well that there was a very strong domestic feeling in Northern

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Ireland about this issue. We then go forward to all the efforts that

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have been made to assess the public opinion on this and there have been

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several. One interestingly enough undertaken by the then Sinn Fein

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Minister of Education, Martin McGuinness described at a time as

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the biggest public opinion poll ever held in Northern Ireland by

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government on any issue. It produced the outcome that there was

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jollity about the 11-Plus but overall selection for the grammar

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school and selection and that was echoed again in other opinion polls

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undertaken by the BBC and the Belfast Telegraph and then you come

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to the important point which is that people like fighting with

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their feet because unlike the 11- Plus which it was expected all

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children would have to go through, there are thousands of parents

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choosing to bring children forward to be tested in this way and that

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is an indication... In the early stages of this there was an

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expression being bandied about, parental choice. Parental choice is

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to have grammar schools as part of the next. I don't suggest for a

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moment that the only good school in Northern Ireland is a grammar

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school, of course not. I am in favour of diversity of schools. The

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Minister and my wife for at an event at an integrated school and I

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am a patron of the integrated schools movement because I believe

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in variety of education. Wouldn't it be odd if the only sort of

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school that we did not want to have is an academic Lee... You did not

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need a selection for diversity of types of schools. That is a

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misdemeanour. That does not make sense. How is it a voluntary

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process? If a school set up a criterion of academic selection and

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a parent wants to send a child to that school, how is it voluntary?

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The parent must cross the barrier and the people. I know two schools

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to set academic selection and did not have to use it because the

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children who applied were so good. It's is voluntary, parents

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voluntarily decide to go through the process or not. That is what it

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means. But there is a barrier in their way. The debate that needs to

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be produced... Let's hear from Adeline Dinsmore, you believe there

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is no benefit. You taught in a non- selective secondary school.

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non-selective schools for my entire career and very often it was a case

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of picking up the pieces from children who had not passed the 11-

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Plus, the self-esteem is in tatters. Over the years I have taught many

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children who have gone on to be fully functioning members of

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society and to achieve in all kinds of ways at the highest level. So

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there... I agree with the Minister. We have policies and an entitlement

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framework. Interestingly enough, we work on that and collaboration

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between schools and funnily enough at 16, these children who were

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failures at 11 are deemed quite adequate. And to go to

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collaboration. J the current position though, he worked in a

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sector where selection was not and cannot support a selective sector.

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We have a minister... It -- and Kennet supports a selective sector.

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We often talk about a fractured society on sectarian grounds and so

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on but this argument I think is more to do with social class issues.

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It is like Stephen Spender. My parents kept me from children who

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were rough. There is a great element of that. So it is snobbery?

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I think so but what we need is our political leaders to take the lead

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and set out visionary policies and practices that will take us some

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way different from where we are at the minute which is not a good

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place. Where would you go from here? David Lambon? You have a

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school with a very proud tradition and you select your pupils

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academically, do you want to continue doing that or do you think

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there needs to be changed? I think what needs to happen went there is

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difficult it is you need to step back a little bit from eight and

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unfortunately, the Minister has not done that. -- a little bit from it.

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Parents are very stressed and unnoticed yesterday it was not so

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much the children who are stressed, it is the mother's and father's act.

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They were stressed about the situation and when we have got

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ourselves to this point, we must take a look back and the Minister

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mentioned international perspectives and I would much

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rather have a debate about the future of schools and how our

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schools are set up rather than a selection process. How do you

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answer that charge from Adeline Dinsmore, a bit of snobbery about

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but? The children want to go to schools because they perceive them

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to be better and their parents want them to go there as well for the

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same reasons which will give their children better opportunities at

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the end of seven years? Is that the case with your school? I do not see

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evidence of that in North Belfast. Out St Malachy's, we provide an

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excellent platform for boys and for choice. As Sir Ken Bloomfield

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mentioned, it is important to have a choice whether the Irish media or

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non-selective, selective, I would like to see a vocational schooling

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system set up where we have parity between things. So get rid of the

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curriculum? The Minister mentioned in France that we have a college,

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and a gymnasium in Germany. It is good to have children are being

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given a place. All children are not the same, Minister, do you accept

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that? Will you be teaching to a different curriculum? Let me answer

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and declare with you. In terms of the curriculum offer, when we get

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to sixth-form, we were focused on a more academic subjects. Three

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languages, a range of Sciences. are you not in the entitlement

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framework? Then you are teaching to the same curriculum. Hang on,

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Minister. With respect, there is a common curriculum but David and

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other principals can choose what part of the curriculum they can

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focus on. And they have to be compliant. By it you can make

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choices about what subject to a children have to study. The only

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way is going to be compliant is if he has a choice of 27 subjects

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after 16 and the only way to achieve that is within his own

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school or work with the educational partners around him and that is

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whether grammar school sector has failed miserably. They have sat on

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an ivory tower. And now they have to work with educational partners.

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For seven years, I worked in one of the best learning partnerships

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which worked exclusively... Undoubtedly. And we are building

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that in North Belfast. You are? me finish before you shout at me.

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We are building a personalised curriculum and we are working

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closely with all of our partners so we can get the best curriculum for

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every child in the Learning Partnership. Sir Ken Bloomfield,

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what do you make up what you have heard? The idea that our grammar

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schools are packed with the social elite is a kind of nonsense. If the

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Minister walks down the road to my old school and saw the people there

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and the people at the concert earlier in the week and realised

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what a wide spectrum they represents... I wrote a letter to

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the Times because Michael Gove had made a daft remark and said "isn't

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it a pity that so many of the post in politics are held by people from

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independent schools?" and I write a simple answer to that, why have we

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five British prime ministers in a road who came from a relatively

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humble background and the only thing they all have in common was

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that they had all come off on the grammar school. I a final word from

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you, Adeline Dinsmore. I know that work is going on in North Belfast

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to build those partnerships but I just think that it is time to step

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back and put the needs of children first and institutions second.

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minister, do you take anything away from this, chef and that might make

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you think again about how you navigate your way through art of

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the situation you are into the benefit of everybody? Of course I

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listen to debates and take away information but my job now and

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those who are opposed to back the next election is to convince

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parents to the values of an academic not selective system.

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you still need to convince David Lambon. Per it if you look at some

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of the changes in the education system, make it from the ground

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especially to changes in the schools.

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Thank you. A thorn in the side of the Stormont Executive, that is

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what Jim Allister aims to be anti- cabbage from north Antrim have a go

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at his political enemies -- and the MLA from north Antrim. Our

:59:09.:59:13.

correspondent went along. Jim Allister may be on his own in

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Stormont but he is not without supporters. Almost 200 party

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members came to take a stand with the TUV leader against the system

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which has Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Ladies and

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:59:37.:59:39.

gentlemen, this province is stained with innocent blood. And those who

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shared it and those who planned it -- shed it and those who endorsed

:59:45.:59:53.

it well over us. It is that evil at the heart of government - and make

:59:53.:59:57.

no mistake, there is the evil at the heart of the Stormont

:59:57.:00:07.
:00:07.:00:08.

government. The very personification of evil is

:00:08.:00:13.

our joined First Minister. Allister also condemns what he

:00:14.:00:19.

calls Sinn Fein hypocrisy over violence by dissident republicans.

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The murder of David Black was straight out of the Provo textbook

:00:26.:00:35.

on terrorism. It was murder they wrote. The TUV leader said it was

:00:35.:00:38.

right that Martin McGuinness was not that David Black's funeral. If

:00:38.:00:45.

I want to salute the Black family for having the strength and the

:00:45.:00:55.
:00:55.:00:58.

courage... For having the strength and the

:00:58.:01:04.

carriage to cut through the hypocrisy and pretence by telling

:01:04.:01:06.

Martin McGuinness to stay away from the funeral.

:01:06.:01:15.

As for the DUP, it was branded foolish and easily seduced for

:01:15.:01:20.

power and its leader Peter Robinson condemned as well. It is not just

:01:20.:01:28.

enough, ladies and gentlemen, to condemn the murder, to visit the

:01:28.:01:33.

widow and then take yourself off with Martin McGuinness to another

:01:33.:01:39.

GAA match. APPLAUSE Che and Alastair call the

:01:39.:01:42.

SDLP and Ulster Unionists doormats who should pull out of the

:01:42.:01:46.

Executive. Jim Allister is not trying to chat

:01:46.:01:53.

to friends, he is asking for building alliances with UKIP. His

:01:53.:01:58.

Deputy Leader had a strong presence at conference.

:01:58.:02:08.
:02:08.:02:09.

For the week in 60 seconds, Stephen The death of a pregnant woman in

:02:09.:02:17.

Galway led to calls for clarity on abortion. We have been working on a

:02:17.:02:21.

guidance document that is sitting in an in-tray somewhere and I would

:02:21.:02:24.

love to see it come are out. emerged that Ian Paisley Jr told

:02:24.:02:29.

Peter Robinson it would be mad to appoint John Larkin as Attorney-

:02:29.:02:32.

General. The argument over the boxing club

:02:32.:02:36.

continues, the sports minister went toe-to-toe with our strongest

:02:36.:02:40.

critics in the Assembly. When sectarianism raises its head,

:02:40.:02:43.

we need to challenge it. So contract as of the failed

:02:43.:02:47.

Ballymena firm Patten wanted a bail-out from the Executive but

:02:47.:02:53.

were turned down. A golf resort could be in line for

:02:53.:02:57.

a new club, the G8 group of world leaders and Sammy Wilson has shin

:02:57.:03:03.

find on his mind but not as often as they think. If she thinks I wake

:03:03.:03:08.

up in the morning and think "how can I get at Sinn Fein today", she

:03:08.:03:16.

must think I live a very sad life. Sir Ken Bloomfield and David Lambon

:03:16.:03:20.

are with me still. You are a former Governor for Northern Ireland in

:03:20.:03:26.

the BBC and that controversy rumbles on. What have you made of

:03:26.:03:31.

it? In a human organisation and humans make mistakes. They must

:03:31.:03:41.

rectify them when they happen but we would keep BBC at the

:03:41.:03:47.

cornerstone of our democracy and society. David Lambon, would you

:03:47.:03:53.

understand people lose interest in aspect of the BBC? 2 and -- to a

:03:53.:03:56.

degree, but it is such a wonderful independent organisation across the

:03:56.:04:01.

world wide spectrum and I think that we should really value it and

:04:01.:04:05.

not lose confidence because a lot of actions have been taken over the

:04:05.:04:09.

last week which I think should let people grow in confidence. By it

:04:09.:04:14.

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