18 3 mins 8 yrs


A decision will be announced later today which will be the effective death knell for academic based education in Northern Ireland. I have a personal interest in this so let me explain.

A decision on the future of the Dickson Plan, the system that selects pupils for grammar school at 14 instead of 11, is expected to be made later.

The Dickson Plan allows schoolchildren to attend junior high schools for three years, before transferring to grammar schools or senior high schools to complete their compulsory education. It does not operate elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, Education Minister John O’Dowd told the Stormont assembly that the Dickson plan was “no longer fit for purpose” and change was required within the area Portadown and Lurgan colleges have opposed the proposed changes, which could see them having to accept any 14-year-old pupil, irrespective of ability.

OK, First things first. I went through the Dickson plan at age 14 and transferred to Portadown College, a grammar school.  My children also went to Grammar schools, though through a slightly different system at age 11.

I totally advocate the advantages of Grammar schools as they provide kids with academic interests the opportunity to excel. Those kids who have less academic interests and more vocational interests have the Secondary school system to attend to their requirements. BUT, the Left HATE the very concept of Grammar schools. and Sinn Fein have long expressed the desire to axe them.

Back in 1999, a public meeting took place in Craigavon Civic Centre on the future of Education. I took part and at that meeting I stated my belief that should Sinn Fein get into government, they would destroy our Grammar Schools. The local headmasters listened to my speech in studied silence. I was not applauded, Jeremiahs never are.

Instead, THEY said that they believed the “Dickson Plan”…which is a route at age 14 into Grammar education ..would not only be maintained but could indeed become the role model for all of Northern Ireland.  I couldn’t make out if they were just naive, selfish or  plain stupid. Maybe all three.

Anyway, they are now panicking as what I forecast comes to pass. The Grammar school ethos is about to be erased and it will START in the Dickson plan area. Schools will NOT be allowed to stream based on academic performance and we will have a Sinn Fein minister impose this. The fact that he himself comes from Lurgan is at least ironic.

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18 thoughts on “GOODBYE MR CHIPS…

  1. Sometimes progress means regress. The dimmmer pupils are encouraged to become dumber,and the clever kids are labelled disruptive.

    What is interesting in this sad development is the way it highlights the madness taking over our society. In education competition and aspiration and excellence are increasingly frowned upon.
    Yet if we turn to the world of sport what do we find? Competition, aspiration, improvement, team and individual achievement are deemed normal..
    Noone gets upset with Andy Murray because he employs the best coach and fitness experts he can find, nor do they throw up their hands in horror when he determines to improve his game and beat opponents. In fact they get excited and cheer!

    Same with team sports. Those educational experts busy dumbing down our educational system and making it more “accessible”, would blow a gasket if their favourite team began to employ the same methods and ideals in their league performances. It would be deemed unacceptable.
    So please tell me, am I missing something or is our country going mad?

  2. I have to agree, David.

    The Executive, led by SF, is attempting to dismember our excellent Grammar school system. This is wrong in and of itself…but they are also making a balls of it.

    The idea that children going to non-Grammar schools were “left behind” is a nonsense and an insult to all the good teachers and the pupils of these schools that excelled there.

    I had never heard of the Dickson system until this week but it sounded like the ideal response to the complaint that selection came to early.

  3. I agree with you David.

    Ironically, the academic selection system is what made education an option for Nationalists and extended political and economic equality in Northern Ireland.

    I will just never understand the objections to selection. Are there problems in the systems? Sure, but throwing the baby out with the bath water is not the solution.

  4. Pinky

    I will write a post on that.

    Not a bragging / boasting / advice giving one like the posts others gave to buy gold, either.

    These are interesting times.

  5. pinky –

    You must be confusing me with someone who doesn’t watch the money supply. I was out when Bernanke began to tighten.

    If you’re going to post that link, at least acknowledge what it says – that money supply games assets prices, and that therefore the markets are rigged.

  6. David — At least you have that warm fuzzy feeling of being able to say ‘I told you so’ which you do appear to be enjoying! 🙂

  7. As someone who was badly let down by the educational system it is hard for me to eulogise about the current system but I suspect that what is planned would be even worse for my ilk.

    Hi pinky

  8. Hey Pinky,

    Did you see the Texas filibuster last night? Wendy Davis was amazing!

  9. Daphne,

    She was inspiring! I thought of you as I watched, wondering what you thought of it.

    Democracy in action in Texas- we don’t get to admire Texas often!

  10. Daphne –

    Yep, Steyn has perfectly described the British politicial establishment there.

    Cameron and his chums actually thought they were insulting (real) conservatives when they described them as “swivel-eyed loons”. Kaiser Wilhelm described the British Army as “contemptible”, whereupon British soldiers called themselves “the old contemptibles”. They just fondly adopted his abuse. Cameron’s the type of self-centered creature who doesn’t understand that the British, deep down, don’t ever feel insulted. Give it a go and let’s see the quality. If its good we’ll use it ourselves.

  11. Senator Davis has my deepest admiration and gratitude.

    These idiot legislators were planning to (and still might if Perry calls another special session) shut down all but five of the state’s abortion clinics (located in the four largest cities).

    Like we need thousands more uneducated, dirt poor, unmarried teenager mothers in Texas. I think we rank second behind Mississippi.

    Who do they think is going to pick up the future costs of raising these unwanted, unaffordable, un-aborted pregnancies? The state taxpayers, that’s who.

    The unintended consequences of this type of highly restrictive legislation has far reaching repercussions in terms of long term social and fiscal policy matters. These children are going to be an expensive public burden from their mother’s first medicaid prenatal visit. Not that my state is actually generous, caring or invested in the success of poor children.

    And talk about stupid, the fact that the vast majority of these Texas children will be raised as democrats by impoverished, young, single mothers of hispanic descent hasn’t occurred to any of these tiny-minded, small government, tea party, fetus obsessed politicians.

    Pre-born, you’re all good; Pre-school, you’re fucked. George Carlin said it, but the quip surely applies to the republican legislators in my state of Texas.

  12. Governor Perry has called another special session to deal with abortion.

    I suspect he be running for president again.

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