Londonderry Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) spokesperson Julia Kee has attacked Sinn Féin over what she described as the “privatisation of transfer tests” after the Education Minister John O’Dowd wrote to several Northern Ireland primary schools including Broadbridge Primary School in the North West, about the coaching of pupils.
Ms Kee claimed that Sinn Féin have been “a disaster in the Department of Education” and that “no teacher or parent should take any lectures from them on elitism.”
“The fact is they have presided over the privatisation of post primary transfer tests and have added to social inequality in doing so,” she said.
She went on to say that her party had not been a champion of the old 11 plus.
“The Ulster Unionist Party was not a cheerleader for the old 11 plus, but to abolish it without a replacement mechanism for transferring primary school pupils was the height of irresponsibility,” she said.
“The GL and AQE tests are an inevitable reaction to the vacuum created by Sinn Féin Education Ministers,” she added.
Ms Kee’s criticism followed comments from local Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue, who said: “The TUV and UUP are now critical that the Department of Education is warning schools not to waste valuable class time to coach children for these unregulated tests.
“If any other sectors within Departments such as Health, Justice, or Regional Development were wilfully ignoring guidance these politicians would be the first out screaming from the roof tops.”
Ms Kee asked: “Does Cllr Logue agree with her party Education spokesperson Chris Hazzard who described primary schools accused of preparing pupils for the non-Departmental transfer tests as ‘misappropriating public funds?’
“This is the same Sinn Féin party which is supporting a decision of the Minister John O’Dowd to open an Irish Medium Secondary School near Dungiven, which his officials have advised him is neither economically viable nor sustainable. The hypocrisy is astounding.”