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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 October 2006, 16:53 GMT 17:53 UK
Academic selection 'is secured'
Image of grammar school from Little Britain programme
The DUP have said they have secured the future of grammar schools
The DUP have said they have secured the future of academic selection and grammar schools in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a press conference after the St Andrews agreement was outlined party leader Ian Paisley said it had been part of negotiations.

The DUP said it was told if agreement is reached by 10 November on the deal the government will change the law which would have banned selection.

It was to have happened on 24 November unless the assembly was "restored".

The Department of Education has confirmed a rewriting of the law in late November could keep academic selection, which currently uses the 11-plus transfer test to decide who should go to grammar school.

Any decision on changing the way children transfer to grammar school would then require a cross-community vote by the assembly.

The DUP's education spokesman, Sammy Wilson MP, said that is unlikely to happen since nationalists and unionists have opposing views on selection and are unlikely to agree to scrap it.

Nationalist parties are in favour of scrapping selection.

The final 11-plus had been due to take place in 2008 but plans to replace it with a system of parental choice have been thrown into disarray.

Plans to scrap the 11-plus were first put in motion by Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness when he was Education Minister and have been followed through by direct rule ministers since.

However, Mr McGuinness, the former education minister, said "people should not become confused by the spin coming out of St Andrews on the issue of academic selection".

"As education minister, I abolished the 11-plus. It was abolished because it gave rise to a system which enhanced educational inequality and disadvantage," he said.

"Let me be clear today, the 11-plus will be abolished and will not be coming back. Spin to the contrary from the DUP in the wake of St Andrews about this issue does not alter this reality."

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23 May 06 |  Northern Ireland
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13 Apr 06 |  Northern Ireland

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