Northern Ireland news

QUB research finds academic selection `disadvantages the already most disadvantaged'

Transfer tests and the grammar school system in Northern Ireland "disadvantages the already most disadvantaged", according to new research from QUB

THERE have been renewed calls for the end of academic selection after new research from Queen’s University Belfast found it "disadvantages the already most disadvantaged".

Several assembly members said the study reinforces the need for it to be "scrapped once and for all".

It comes after research from QUB found that academic selection "perpetuates middle-class advantage and limits potential for the development of a more integrative and inclusive education system".

The QUB paper, 'Is academic selection in Northern Ireland a barrier to social cohesion?', was published ahead of the first transfer test of 2022 taking place tomorrow.

A single post-primary transfer test is set to go ahead from next year.

Professor Joanne Hughes and Dr Rebecca Loader from QUB said: "The dynamic of a selective system, mapped also on Catholic and Protestant lines, works against children and young people from different socio-economic backgrounds learning together, within and between communities.

"It seems particularly egregious that the young and most vulnerable in the most disadvantaged Catholic and Protestant communities are the victims of an education system that manifestly fails to serve their interests.

"In communities that are historically segregated and susceptible to paramilitary control, educational failure and the absence of social mobility are more likely to manifest in violence and intergroup hostility."

Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan said the report "is the latest in a long line of studies which exposes the cruel and damaging impact of academic selection on children and education".

"In light of this latest study, school boards of governors should now show leadership in favour of building an inclusive and non-selective education system for the benefit of all our young people." he said.

People Before Profit assembly member Gerry Carroll described academic selection as "cruel" and "archaic".

"It is unacceptable that we still have a system that tells 11-year-old children whether they are a success or a failure," he said.

"The harm caused by academic selection is well evidenced. By educating pupils of all abilities together we can create a better and fairer education system."

Cara Hunter of the SDLP also said: "The idea that children’s abilities at such a young age should have a high influence on their futures does our young people a great disservice.

"Children learn and develop at different paces and we need to see allowances for that within our education system."

Northern Ireland news