O'Dowd 'awaits' grammar school review

Published Friday, 10 February 2012
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Education minister John O' Dowd has said he will await the publication of a major review into Catholic post-primary schools on Monday, before passing judgment.

O'Dowd 'awaits' grammar school review
Education minister John O' Dowd has said he will await the publication of a majo (© UTV)

This comes after an Irish News article published on Friday suggested that the report will concede partial academic selection in Catholic schools.

While the Church is against academic selection, Catholic grammar schools in Northern Ireland have fought a long battle in favour of the use of 11-plus style tests.

Mr O Dowd spoke to UTV at the unveiling of a brand new £22million school for Our Lady and St Patrick's College in east Belfast.

He said: "Let's await the publication of the Catholic Commission's Report before we come to any judgment on what the contents of the report are.

"My view is the time for fine words is over - it's now time for action."

Catholic education - and other types of education - is "a much broader subject than simply grammar schools," he said.

The Sinn Féin minister added that "all voices had to be heard equally in the debate going forward."

Dermot Mullan, principal of Our Lady and St Patricks College, said that while he acknowledged different views, he favoured giving parents options.

"I believe that if parents want to have an academically selective school then they should be allowed to have that. If parents don't want that, there has to be an alternative - just as there has to be provision for Irish medium, the integrated sector, for all sorts of sectors."

He added: "I believe that the more choice parents have the better the education we will have for their children."

The body charged with producing a blueprint for Catholic post primary schools was not available for comment.

Its report is expected to explain what place selection will have in the new era for Catholic education.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Marion in Newtownabbey wrote (1,081 days ago):
I agree Jim, this should have been done years ago. Things in NI will never change. No only are kids separated at age 4 but at age 10/11 they have to sit 2 different transfer tests. It is a disgrace to say the least.
george in omagh wrote (1,081 days ago):
Fair point jim ,but how are they going to teach children anything when one section's geography, history ,english grammer,physical education, even religion is different and thats only here in Northern Ireland never mind Ireland where your on about,.We went to different schools when we where young and thats the way it is the world over.
seamas in belfast wrote (1,081 days ago):
Jim. You’re right. Who do these Catholics think they are? Imagine wanting their children educated in a catholic ethos. The cheek of them. Why can’t you just decide what type of education we can have for our children?
jim in s''land wrote (1,082 days ago):
There should be no connection between education and ANY form of religion. Schools should be free from divisive superstitions and if parents feel the need to pass on religious beliefs to their children, it should be done at home in their own time. The problems of religious divisions in society, especially in Ireland will never be solved until children are not separated at the age of 4 and sent to different schools.
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