Democratic Unionist claims that alternative forms of academic selection could stop parents from paying for extra tuition for their children were dismissed today by a loyalist rival.
Progressive Unionist Party leader Dawn Purvis rejected DUP and Ulster Unionist suggestions in their Assembly Election manifestos that post-primary schools should have some form of academic selection following the scrapping of the 11-plus.
Noting that the DUP had highlighted computer adaptive testing as a less stressful alternative, Ms Purvis said she did not buy the party’s claim that it would not be open to tutoring.
The east Belfast PUP candidate said: “The argument that the computer adapted test is a viable alternative and would not result in people tutoring their children is a nonsense.
“It does not matter what form of test you have, parents who can afford it will pay for tutoring and that disadvantages other children.”
Ms Purvis said there was a need for an education system which benefited all sections of society and not just 35% of the children in the North.
She said her party wanted to see all schools reach the same standards as the top schools.
“There is no doubt that Northern Ireland schools are the cream of the UK in terms of exam results,” the PUP leader said.
“However, the other side of that coin is that we have the highest number of people who are leaving school without any qualifications whatsoever.
“We also have rising problems with numeracy and literacy skills.
“Something is seriously wrong when we have an education system that benefits only 35%.
“We need a system that ensures that our children have the best start in life.”