Catholic Principal's Association Statement
The C.P.A. representing the views of over 230 schools within the Catholic education sector, notes with grave and increasing concern the continued use of unregulated tests to select and reject pupils for 26 Catholic grammar schools.
The continuation of selection flies in the face of the leadership provided by
Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin who has stated that:
“In this day and age no young person should be turned away from a Catholic school on the basis of their mark in an entrance test at the age of ten or eleven”
Continuing selection also ignores the compelling evidence provided by the
NI Human Rights (July 2015) NI Equality Commissions (October 2015) and other sources that selection at 10/11 has led to a two tier system of education which has a hugely damaging effect on the outcomes and attainments for children from the most disadvantaged sections of our community.
Consequently, the continuation of selection is also doing serious and lasting damage to the ethos and reputation of Catholic education. How can anyone in society continue to advocate and speak the language of social justice, inclusion and high quality provision for all while simultaneously practising educational exclusion and de facto social streaming?
The CPA and its members want no part in or association with this practice.
We note that in areas where selection has thankfully ended, Catholic schools continue to flourish and prosper with the support and endorsement of parents. The ending of unnecessary, unregulated and stressful testing has been a clear benefit in these areas. It is a model CPA would propose for all Catholic provision. We remain baffled as to why it is thought too painful, too fraught or too problematic for other areas when practice and precedent are there for all to see.
We ask the key question once again “What is the educational value of selection at 10/11?” In doing so, we call upon all advocates of academic and its attendant social selection to think again about its clearly detrimental effects on all of our children. We invite those within the Catholic sector to engage in open and honest debate as to the future direction of our education system. At a time where the state system is engaged in contemplating ‘shared education’ is it too much to ask that we move to ‘shared’ stewardship, vision and planned implementation of change within
the family of Catholic schools?
Once again we call on Trustees and their representatives on individual Boards of Governors to publicly state their position on selection and to set out reasons why they are unwilling / unable to bring about the non-selective system advocated by the Archbishop and called for on several occasions since 2009 by the Northern Catholic Bishops. We can think of no valid moral, ethical, social, logistical, demographic or educational grounds for continued academic selection. It is essential that the road-blocks to implementation of a truly Catholic system are identified and specified by those who still advocate academic selection and / or find its abolition too fraught to implement.