Entitlement framework will make ‘selection obsolete’


Northern Ireland’s new system of secondary education makes academic selection obsolete, the schools minister has said.

John O’Dowd said the “entitlement framework”, which is being rolled out, ensures that every child can access the same broad-based curriculum.

The aim is to provide pupils a broad and balanced curriculum to help them reach their full potential no matter which school they attend or where they live.

All pupils are guaranteed access to a minimum number of courses at key stage 4 and post-16, of which at least one third must be academic and one third vocational.

Every secondary school in Northern Ireland should already be offering access to 21 courses at key stage 4 and 24 at post-16.

From next year, the number of courses must increase to a minimum of 24 and 27.

It is a system that caters for young people’s interests, for their aspirations and for their career needs, the minister said.

Crucially, he continued, it is a system that breaks down barriers and enables children from selective schools and non-selective schools to be educated together in the same classroom.

Despite this, the majority of the North’s grammar schools still operate 11-plus tests.

Mr O’Dowd said he strives for an end to “the myths, an end to the social selection masked in an outdated education argument”.

He told a recent gathering of the Catholic Principals’ Association, which represents both primary and secondary heads, that they could play a useful role in this.

As members of area learning communities, many already work with neighbouring schools in the delivery of the entitlement framework.  

“This partnership is in the best interests of the young people involved, ensuring they can access their choice of subjects at key points in their educational career,” Mr O’Dowd added.

“I believe those involved in this work can illustrate how the current and future shape of educational provision renders academic selection obsolete.

“I believe you have and are challenging selective schools on the need for such testing.”



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