Newton Emerson: Fading myth of the North’s world-beating schools

Middle-classes guard ‘their’ grammar schools, but a third of children leave school with few or no qualifications


The real political obstacle is that the middle-classes will not give up ‘their’ grammar schools. File photograph: The Irish Times

For a very long time, Northern Ireland told itself it had one of the best education systems in the world. National and international statistics appeared to back this up.

Over the past decade, a more realistic assessment has filtered into public consciousness. Northern Ireland has one of the best and worst systems in the world. It produces excellent exam results, yet a third of children leave school with few or no qualifications.

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