18/11/2012 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


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.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 18/11/2012. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



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


abolished so why are thousands of children still sitting a transfer


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2379 seconds


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


politics in Northern Ireland. Another weekend of transfer tests


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


failing when it is come to phasing out selection.


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


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


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


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


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


tests. The number of children taking the unofficial Tests


increased this year and that is despite pressure from the Education


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


take stock and consider reintroducing a single Test as some


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the young people through educational pathways into adulthood


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


continuing and the question you must answer as minister for


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


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


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


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


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


academic selection for good education? Those leading the


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


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


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


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


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


have to become tied to the framework will stop good education


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


grammar schools' continuing with selection despite your insistence


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


there are many schools out there providing excellent education which


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the future of education about how they will receive a quality


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


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


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


Bloomfield from the Association for Quality Education and the principal


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


that would abolish academic selection forever would not go


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


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


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


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


several. One interestingly enough undertaken by the then Sinn Fein


Minister of Education, Martin McGuinness described at a time as


the biggest public opinion poll ever held in Northern Ireland by


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


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


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


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


to the important point which is that people like fighting with


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


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


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


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


expression being bandied about, parental choice. Parental choice is


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


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


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


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


am a patron of the integrated schools movement because I believe


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


children who have gone on to be fully functioning members of


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


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


framework. Interestingly enough, we work on that and collaboration


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


school with a very proud tradition and you select your pupils


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


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


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


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


Parents are very stressed and unnoticed yesterday it was not so


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


They were stressed about the situation and when we have got


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


mentioned international perspectives and I would much


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


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


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


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


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


same reasons which will give their children better opportunities at


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


other principals can choose what part of the curriculum they can


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


We are building a personalised curriculum and we are working


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


every child in the Learning Partnership. Sir Ken Bloomfield,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


parents to the values of an academic not selective system.


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


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


especially to changes in the schools.


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


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


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


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


Stormont but he is not without supporters. Almost 200 party


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


which has Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister. Ladies and


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


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


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


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


government. The very personification of evil is


our joined First Minister. Allister also condemns what he


calls Sinn Fein hypocrisy over violence by dissident republicans.


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


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


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


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


courage... For having the strength and the


carriage to cut through the hypocrisy and pretence by telling


Martin McGuinness to stay away from the funeral.


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


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


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


widow and then take yourself off with Martin McGuinness to another


GAA match. APPLAUSE Che and Alastair call the


SDLP and Ulster Unionists doormats who should pull out of the


Executive. Jim Allister is not trying to chat


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


Deputy Leader had a strong presence at conference.


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


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


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


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


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


General. The argument over the boxing club


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


critics in the Assembly. When sectarianism raises its head,


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Download Subtitles