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Union uses Michelin jobs losses to blast 11-plus

Avril Hall Callaghan said the continued use of 11-plus tests defied logic

A TEACHING union has linked the loss of 800 jobs at a Ballymena tyre factor to the 11-plus system of selecting children for grammar school.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's first transfer test, the Ulster Teachers' Union (UTU) said the blow to Michelin in Ballymena highlighted the need to match students' skills to jobs.

With more than 800 jobs now removed from the market, the union said it was vital that children, including the thousands preparing to sit the 11-plus, were qualified for the posts which were available.

Grammar schools are hosting unregulated entrance exams for the seventh year in a row meaning P7 pupils will sit as many as five papers over the next four Saturdays.

UTU general secretary Avril Hall Callaghan said the retention of unregulated entrance tests defied any logic "other than to serve the misguided aspirations of those who rate the grammar school label more important than the practicality of the education their children receive".

"With the Michelin posts disappearing form the jobs market, it is more important than ever for young people coming through to ensure they have the skills for the jobs which are available," she said.

"The CBI tells us the workplace needs rounded individuals who are personable and good team-workers - it's about more than purely academic exam results.

"Indeed, while employers will always want excellence, in many fields it is now vocational excellence they're looking for. We only have to look at the Republic of Ireland to see its success in attracting investors hungry for the skills of young people taught in a system that is not academically selective and which has maintained its level of resources for schools even through its economic crisis."

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