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EDITIONS
Monday, 20 May, 2002, 06:09 GMT 07:09 UK
Public gets say on education plan
The public is to be given the opportunity to voice its views on the future of post-primary education in Northern Ireland.

Questionnaires are to be sent out to homes asking for opinions on the Burns Report's proposals for education and the abolition of the 11-plus transfer test.

The Burns review of Northern Ireland's education system was set up by Education Minister Martin McGuinness.

The exam is a selection test for children in primary seven and determines to which type of school they will transfer.


The distribution of these forms is an unprecedented outreach, which for the first time gives the public a chance to have their say

Martin McGuinness
Education minister

Speaking on Monday, Mr McGuinness encouraged people to "make their views count in the biggest education debate yet".

He said people should take time to complete the questionnaire.

It will be posted to homes across Northern Ireland over the course of this week.

The exercise will cost 185,000.

'Vital stage'

Each household will receive two copies of the form.

It details information about the post-primary review and invites the public to submit views on the main recommendations of the Burns Report.

Mr McGuinness said: "This is a vital stage of the process. The distribution of these forms is an unprecedented outreach, which for the first time gives the public a chance to have their say on what type of education system we should have.
Education minister Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness set up education review body

"I want to emphasise again that no decisions have been taken.

"The questionnaires being mailed out this week provide a crucial opportunity for ordinary people, who perhaps felt that their views wouldn't be sought, to make their views count in a very real way.

"This exercise demonstrates my commitment to listen to everyone's views."

He said a summary of the responses to all elements of the consultation process would be published in September.

The Department of Education said people's opinions would remain anonymous.

It is distributing about 670,000 copies of the form, which must be returned by 28 June.

'Discredited and crude'

Last week, head teachers from Catholic secondary schools said the Burns proposals did not go far enough.

They are pushing for a comprehensive education system which, they say, is preferred by the vast majority of countries around the world.

The Catholic secondary school principals have led the battle against the 11-plus and academic selection in recent years.

Speaking on Friday, the principals said they were happy everyone seemed to have reject the "discredited and crude" 11-plus.

But they said the ideas in the Burns report could not end academic and social selection soon enough.

The consultation will continue until the end of June, and it is predicted that the Burns proposals will not be accepted in their entirety.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Maggie Taggart:
"Each household will receive a copy of the response form"
Education Minister Martin McGuinness
"The public has a key role to play"
See also:

17 May 02 | N Ireland
02 May 02 | N Ireland
22 May 01 | N Ireland
24 Oct 01 | N Ireland
Internet links:


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