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Tuesday, 18 January, 2000, 19:10 GMT
Vice-chancellor criticises transfer test

Queen's University in Belfast George Bain is vice-chancellor of Queen's in Belfast


The vice-chancellor of Queen's University in Belfast has said the 11-plus selection system in Northern Ireland breeds 'social apartheid' which inhibits pupils in the educational system from bridging social divisions.

Speaking at the prize distribution in St Patrick's College (Bearnageeha) in Belfast on Tuesday, Professor George Bain said he would like to see the 11-plus discontinued.

Professor George Bain: '11-plus breeds social apartheid' Professor George Bain: '11-plus breeds social apartheid'
He said: "For a variety of social, financial and other reasons pupils from working-class homes do less well on the 11-plus than those from middle-class homes.

"Even at the same level of measured ability on the 11-plus, more working-class pupils transfer to secondary schools and more middle-class pupils to grammar schools.

"The result is that the majority of pupils in grammar schools are middle-class, whereas those in secondary schools are working class.

"This result is most unfortunate because, in my opinion, schools should provide education and training not only in the narrow sense - the three Rs, but also in the wider social sense, developing social and interpersonal skills which enable people to relate broadly and easily across a wide spectrum of society.

"The social apartheid produced by the 11-plus prevents both the grammar and the secondary schools from adequately performing this important social function, " he said.

Northern Ireland Education Minister, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, has also voiced his opposition to the 11-plus.

Speaking in December, he stated his "complete" opposition to the 11-plus examination, which he failed himself.

"We face real problems. We have a problem here in the north of Ireland with this dreaded 11-plus examination, we have a huge problem with social disadvantage, exclusion, under achievement, and of course many of our pupils suffer from dyslexia."

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See also:
04 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
McGuinness: Let's work together
03 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
NI's universities attract poorer students
04 Nov 99 |  Education
Questions over 11-plus exams
15 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Research funding cuts criticised

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