Ruane Plan For Poorer Children To Access North's Grammar Schools

Children entitled to free school meals are to make up at least 20% of all those being admitted to grammar schools in the North.

The news comes as Stormont Education Minister Caitríona Ruane issued guidelines on the transfer of pupils from primary schools from 2010.

Last week, she failed to get the Stormont Executive to approve a phasing out of academic selection.

Her new guidelines - including a "first criterion" that requires schools to admit a fifth of all entrants from such poorer groups also spells out that they should not use academic selection.

Speaking in the North's Assembly today she then listed other criteria which oversubscribed schools should use to choose pupils.

However, while she said she "has a duty to act and let parents, children and teachers know how Transfer 2010 will operate" it is understood the guidelines are advisory rather than legally enforceable.

That means schools must take the guidelines into account but they are free to decide not to use them.

Ms Ruane told the Assembly that "the time to act has arrived" and said that as a top priority, schools must select a proportion of pupils who are entitled to free school meals.

The list of criteria is then similar to that already being used by secondary and primary schools namely attendance at a feeder primary school, living in the parish or in a catchment area, being the eldest child or having a brother or sister at the school.

The Minister said she would also now withdraw orders that the exams body should produce a new test for selection.

She said she hoped grammar schools would choose to stop academic selection.

However, to add to the continuing confusion, many grammar schools have said they will run their own admission tests.

See: 'Decisive' 11-plus Move Promised At Stormont

Related Irish News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 December 2013
Academic Selection Is Failing Our Pupils - Hazzard
Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Chris Hazzard has said that the latest results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) from the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that academic selection is failing the majority of our pupils and doesn't increase academic excellence.
13 March 2024
SDLP Launches Petition For Restoration Of Integrated Schools Funding
The SDLP has launched a petition calling for the restoration of funding for new buildings at ten integrated schools across NI. The petition follows the recent announcement of the withdrawal of this funding as part of the financial package agreed between Executive parties and the UK Government.
27 June 2011
Up To 40 New Schools To Be Established In Six Years
Twenty new primary schools and twenty new post-primary schools are to be established in the next six years. Announcing the new schools, the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn said: "My Department is forecasting an increase of over 45,050 primary pupils and 24,900 post-primary pupils by the start of the 2017/18 school year.
24 March 2010
Ruane Criticised Over 'Actionable' Advice
The North's Minister for Education and the Stormont Department of Education have been criticised for advising schools to follow guidance on selection which may leave them open to legal challenge. The Governing Bodies Association has received legal advice on the Transfer 2010 policy. The association represents 52 voluntary grammar schools across NI.
09 November 2007
Protestant Schools Protest Imposition Of Outside Staff
A bitter educational dispute is likely to lead to the courts as four Protestant schools in Dublin continue to refuse the imposition of teachers from other, now closed schools elsewhere.