Popular of Late
|Protestant Boys Fail to Reach their Potential in Education
|Written by Siobhan Harding
|Friday, 05 October 2012 11:35
Statistics from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) show that 26 out of the 30 electoral wards with the poorest record of non-attendance at post primary schools had a mainly Protestant population. Ulster Unionist Roy Beggs MLA is tabling a motion in the Assembly calling for urgent action on this issue saying, “the group that is least reaching its potential is Protestant working-class boys”.This follows an earlier report on under-achievement by Protestant boys in Northern Ireland which also highlighted that only 48% of Protestant boys achieved five A* - C GCSEs compared with the national average in Northern Ireland of 75% (2008 GCSE figures).
Roy Beggs MLA believes that there may be a lack of recognition of the importance of education in some Protestant areas. He said: “the value of a good education had to be better appreciated in some Protestant working-class areas. The community itself must get to the stage where they value education.”
Man Matters works with adult men who have left school, however we strongly believe that the environment boys grow up in outside of school is just as strong an influence on their education as school itself. That is why work with fathers, elder brothers and other men in the community is crucial to the success of boys in school. Man Matters prides itself in working in areas were education attainment is lowest and we have run many classes in the wards outlined in this report.
The Man Matters project was set up to engage men in key areas of life that often have an under-representation of men and one of these areas is learning. The project can provide courses, workshops, volunteering opportunities, events, seminars and conferences and these are provided free of charge. To find out more about the opportunities available through the Man Matters project contact Dawn Lord or Gary Smyth on or or on .
In another development within the WEA we are putting together a partnership of organisations who can provide a holistic response to the very issues raised in this story. Indeed our next AGM on Friday 16th November will be addressed by Mark Langhammer one of the authors of the report into the under-achievement of Protestant boys.
Rab Robertson grew up on the Shankill Road in Belfast. He said "going to school was more about containment for kids of my age than education." Rab left school unable to read or write properly and this held him back later in his working life. He said, "as a man you were encouraged to show an image where you viewed education as stupid and pointless." Rab knew he needed to change this and took part in some classes provided by the WEA. Rab has taken a number of classes over the years and is now able to read and write much better, even helping his kids with their homework! He said that the WEA were very helpful to him, "they really welcomed me to the classes and in no way did I feel insecure or nervous about going to them once I was there."
Rab Robertson pictured helping his kids with their homework