BBC News – Fees hike ‘a huge gamble with future of young’

December 10, 2010

BBC News – Fees hike ‘a huge gamble with future of young’.


At last.. a University Vice Chancellor speaking sense and having the courage to speak out instead of hiding away from the “big boys”! Well done Professor Richard Barnett of the university of Ulster.


11+ ….14+ … what’s your call?

December 4, 2007

At last a decision on an educational matter of substance … or is it? Education Minister Caitriona Ruane has announced an end to educational selection at 11 with the introduction of some form of decision making process by children at the age of 14. But.. did you ever get the feeling that the battle is only just starting?

lumen.jpgFor one thing the grammar schools are not going to like this and the minister’s suggestion that their funding could be in danger will really stir some anger. The minister said that although she understands grammar schools may need time to adjust to a new system if they choose to run independent admissions arrangements, they may not get government funding. Whoa…… is that the sound of girding of loins I hear? The grammar school have done a fabulous jobs under the 11+ system but to believe they will back down, and throw away the privilege they enjoy, is pretty fanciful. I predict a lot of squirming and lobbying by these schools, their parents and alumni. Watch this space.

Of course, the DUP Read the rest of this entry »

It had to happen….chipping kids!

November 25, 2007

So we waited around and sure enough someone came up with the idea and even worse someone else agreed it was a good notion and found the money to back it. Yip….. they have chipped children. Now… not the children themselves – yet – but their clothes. This tale of woe carried by the BBC is worrying:- BBC NEWS | Education | Concern at pupil data microchips

Basically someone has stitched a microchip into some kids clothes so that teacher can pick up academic information about the kids as they enter a room. It says:-

A secondary school in Doncaster has been trying out a scheme where pupils’ records are stored on a microchip embedded in their school uniform.The device enables teachers to call up information about pupils, such as their attainment, as they enter a classroom.

And:- Read the rest of this entry »

Classroom Assistants Strike: the parents’ view.

November 20, 2007

Regular readers of Talk Northern Ireland will be well aware of our long running coverage of the NIPSA classroom assistants strike – here if you missed it. In that item reading3.gifclassroom assistants have poured forth their feelings about the failing of the employers to settle this industrial action. If you have not read this yet then you should.

But there is another side to this story, a side that is pulling at the heart strings of both the assistants and the public. That side, of course, is the story of the children caught up in the dispute. Parents are finding it hard to see their children deprived of specialist help and the classroom assistants are distraught at the impact their actions are having on the children they look after each day.

It’s time we Read the rest of this entry »

11+ : 2007/8

November 9, 2007

Well… (sigh)… it’s that time of year again. The time when we examine all our 10 year old children and decide their educational futures. Yip…. it’s 11+ exam time again. That pinnacle of educational 11.jpgexamination where standards are so variable that if a smart kid where to take the tests on two successive years he/she would get into grammar school one year and not the next! One of the few exams where we have a quota to fill and not a standard to reach. The sad thing is that it has blighted our system for so many years that we are afraid to ditch it and explore how we can do more to have ALL our children educated in the best possible conditions and to the highest standards possible.

This year 15,750 pupils have been signed up for the tests in English, Maths and Science. Now, that number is up on the figures for the last couple of years but its not because of a massive rise in pupil numbers. DENI say its just a wee blip in the pattern of the falling school population.

So, what will happen to-day? Well, wee kids will put their futures on the line by answering a series of questions on English, Mathematics and Science. Shortly they will undertake a second test. After grading parents will be informed in February if their offspring have been successful in the test. Those that are successful get the reward of a grammar school place  while those who are unsuccessful get to feel complete and utter failures and enter our crumbling secondary school system where the preoccupation of the moment seems to be re-branding to ape the grammar schools.

Of course, we’ve been saying for years that this exam will have to go. And the NI exam quango (CCEA) have revealed that they have not been asked to prepare 11+ exams for 2009. But, there is still no indication from our political leaders of what format the replacement selection procedure will take.

So… there are a few things to do to-day. First, if you see a glum looking 10 year old kid point out to them all the really successful people you know who didn’t “pass” the exam and, secondly, contact the minister for education, Caitriona Ruane, tell her to shift her political mass and make a binding decision about the future of Northern Ireland educational selection.

Alternatively you can read me writing about this same problem in 2009/2010/2011/2012…..

Classroom Assistants Strike

October 12, 2007

The spectacle of classroom assistants being forced to take to the streets in pursuit of a decent wage deal is sickening – especially as it has taken more than 10 years for them to be made any kind of an offer. Now, with the NIPSA members on all-out strike, the big bullies have moved in.


The Belfast Telegraph reports in their story, “School strikers told: deal is fair and final”, that:-

Education bosses last night insisted an offer made to thousands of striking classroom assistants over a week ago was fair and final. A spokesman for the five boards stressed that there will be no increase in working hours for any classroom assistant or pay cut for anyone currently employed as a classroom assistant.

Now, I don’t know Read the rest of this entry »