The Education Authority has announced radical plans to deal with underachievement among working class Protestant boys here, including the addition of Bonfire Construction to the GCSE syllabus.
Revealing the move, Chief Examiner Hugh Grade told reporters it would address a key area of inequality in educational provision.
“Our current system fails to take into account one key fact,” he said, “namely that the exam season coincides with the start of the marching season.”
“We can’t seriously expect teenage boys to stay in and revise when they have important work like gathering pallets and practising for band parades to think about.”
Bonfire Construction will be added to the syllabus as a subject in itself, with students asked to carry out both practical and written assessments.
“People don’t realise the complex mathematics involved in building these things,” says Grade. “So we’ll have questions like John has 2000 pallets, each 1.2 metres square, what will be a) the height of his bonfire, b) its circumference and c) how long will it burn for?”
Other subjects will include aspects of the marching season within their courses. In Art students will be able to paint kerbstones, Music will add a flute band section to its syllabus, and English will include poems and novels related to the theme.
“So far we’ve added Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night,” says Grade.
East Belfast Community Representative George ‘Geordie’ George welcomed the news.
“It’s about time something was done about this problem,” he told us, “and this will save us taking any responsibility for it.”