1967: Principal calls for end to eleven plus exam ‘nonsense’

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The eleven plus examination came under criticism by a Ballyclare principal, according to a report in the East Antrim Times in November 1967.

Speaking during his annual report at prizegiving, Mr W. Stirling, head of Ballyclare County Secondary School, called for “an end to the nonsense of selection for grammar or secondary school education”.

He stated that “no form of selection would ever be acceptable to parents”.

“No educational case can ever be made for the retention of selection at eleven plus, said Mr. Stirling.

He urged the Minister of Education to say that selection should be discredited in pupils’ interests.

He suggested that the current system of selection was “worse than its predecessors”.

The principal also said that the government seemed to be committed to raising school leaving age and warned that this needed to be properly managed.

“The supply of adequate buildings and recruitment of teachers would be essential to this. We must be prepared to experiment and give a greater deal of thought to the extent of our courses.”