Minister Ruane’s disengagement is ‘irresponsible’

Following the Annual General Meeting of the Governing Bodies Association outgoing Chair Dr Evelyn Dermott has robustly defended member schools in the Voluntary Grammar sector. Her remarks came in light of recent public criticism of the Grammar sector from the Education Minister Catriona Ruane.

Dr Dermott said, “As the representative voice of the Voluntary Grammar sector the GBA believe the Minister’s recent claims that the current confusion and anguish amongst parents was as a result of the actions of Grammar schools to be unfounded, unfortunate and unhelpful.”

“In our view the Minister has a duty to govern within the parameters of her power. The consequences of her irresponsible decision to move ahead and remove one transfer system without an agreed replacement is now being felt in the homes of thousands of young families across Northern Ireland.

“We hope that the Minister commitment to govern for all the children does not amount to a one-size-fits-all option. However the Governing Bodies Association question why she repeatedly seeks to dismiss the Grammar sector as a ‘minority interest’ when in fact we educate almost half of all post-primary pupils in Northern Ireland to world class standards.

Highlighting the efforts of Grammar schools in providing information to parents Dr Dermott said, “Despite the Minister’s disengagement we know from experience in our own schools the commitment of principals, governors and teachers to helping parents understand the particular arrangements they have made for transfer. Having taken professional legal advice schools are confident that their plans are robust and we believe the threats from the Minister about a legal chaos are a result of her own frustration.”

Dr Dermott concluded, “The immediate priority for our members in the Voluntary Grammar sector is to make sure pupils and parents understand the arrangements for transfer to individual schools. We welcome the work ongoing to create consensus amongst the political parties and are confident with goodwill considerable progress can be made to improve the situation before parents and pupils face Transfer 2011.”