Debate is healthy

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The ongoing controversy over appointment to school Boards of Governors reveals an awful lot about the attitude of some people in our society.

Many questions have been asked in recent weeks since it was revealed that two new appointments have been made to the Board of Governors of local grammar school, Lumen Christi.

Some parents have raised concerns because two of the new appointees are members of Sinn Féin. Political appointees to Boards of Governors are nothing new, however, and members of political parites have sat on such boards in Derry for generations.

What makes this case slightly different is the fact that both individuals concerns have been open and vocal concerning their opposition to academic selection, which is likely to place them on a collision course with other members of the grammar school’s governing body.

Debate is healthy within any organisation, particularly one such as a school Board of Governors. Board members should be there to scrutinise and ask questions, not merely to rubber stamp decisions taken by others. Having opposing voices can only make the scrutiny process more rigorous and, ultimately, more accountable.

The fact that some people have raised concerns, and indeed threatened to go so far as to remove their children from the school, over these appointments raises several questions. Are they opposed to all political appointments or just from some parties? Are they opposed to debate and scrutiny within school boards?