19th May 2020
Gerry Murphy, Northern Secretary of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, today welcomed the call from Archbishop Eamon Martin, to suspend the use of academic selection as an entrance criterion for entry to post-primary school.
This is reflective of a similar call in 2012 by the Catholic Bishops in Northern Ireland for the abolition of academic selection. Saying then, it has “outlived its usefulness” they then called on all political parties to agree on a better system of transfer to post-primary schools.
Mr Murphy said:
“INTO welcomes the Bishop’s intervention today and we are only sorry it has taken a pandemic to get us to this point. Given the current difficult circumstances we are hopeful that this will not fall on deaf ears as the previous call did.
A necessary suspension would allow school staff, parents and pupils time to prepare properly for the challenges of returning to school in September, and the putting in place the necessary, additional support for pupils that will be required after such a difficult break from “normal” schooling.
Rather than looking for ways to facilitate this archaic system of social selection, there is an opportunity to adopt a new model. One which does not continue to disadvantage children because of their socio-economic background. One which does not label children as young as ten as failures. A system that would give equity for all pupils in the final year of their primary school.
It is time for all within the education community to work towards mitigating the harm caused to young people as a result of the use of academic criteria in the transfer procedure, and to finally consign academic selection to the dustbin of history.”