Pupil selection system not acceptable - McGuinness


A system of academic selection and rejection is not acceptable, Northern Assembly Education Minister Mr Martin McGuinness said today.

In an address to the Irish National Teachers Organisation's (INTO) conference, the Sinn Féin minister restated his opposition to the 11-Plus.

He told delegates: "I cannot and will not accept an education system which makes children physically sick with nerves, which makes children feel stupid or which determines the future of children on the basis of two hours of their life.

"No society has the right to tell any child at age 10 or 11 that he or she is a failure." Mr McGuinness, who has to produce proposals for the North’s post primary education, said there was a "clear need" for change.

"The 11-Plus is a symptom of the present system which is academic selection and academic rejection.

"That is what the debate must be about and I welcome the growing concentration on this key issue in public discussions."

Quoting the views of children who had gone through the 11-Plus, Mr McGuinness focused on three testimonies in a Save the Childrenreport.

One child talked about having trouble sleeping the night before the exam and waking up to realise he or she was sleepwalking.

A second claimed he or she was stupid because the exam had condemned him or her to go to secondary school.

A third stated children were being judged on the basis of two hours of their lives.

The minister welcomed the debate in the wake of the report published by the Burns Review of Post Primary Education.