Youth Parliament

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26306.jpgTwo pupils from The Wallace High School recently attended the annual Northern Ireland Youth Parliament.
Rebecca and Robert joined teenagers from across the province to discuss the future of academic selection in schools. Guest speakers for the day were MP Martin McGuinness and Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, former Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Rebecca explained, “Both speakers presented very convincing points, with both in fact arguing that the current 11 plus exam was not a good idea. Sir Kenneth spoke in favour of academic selection whilst Mr McGuinness argued against it. Following the speeches we discussed the issues in small groups. It was very interesting to hear what other teenagers felt about this very important issue. Some members of my discussion group were from the Lurgan area and they explained how the Dixon plan works. I firmly believe in academic selection , as it is better to be in a school environment which bests suits your skills and aptitudes. However I do think there is quite a bit of unfair social pressure put on children at the young age of eleven by teachers, parents and peers concerning their “success or failure” in the eleven plus. If the supposed stigma of “passing” or “failing” were removed it would help all schools be recognised for their strengths.”

Seventeen year old Robert went on, “There is currently a major democratic deficit on Northern Ireland . It seems rather ironic that a comprehensive system is being forced on us here in Northern Ireland whilst at the same time MPs in England are furiously fighting to retain grammar schools. I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of young people at the Youth Parliament voted in favour of academic selection. It was good to have an opportunity to air our views and I know that many of my classmates have signed the Lisburn Council petition to try to save our schools.”

Last modified: October 16, 2007