Policy and planning committee: working to increase integrated provision, and reaching out to others.
As you might expect in a year when integrated education has been to the forefront of media attention, the Policy and Planning committee has had a busy time. There is a growing sense that if we can work with schools to find solutions for them which address some of the current barriers to integration, we will be able to increase the number of children accessing a high quality, integrated education. It is for this reason that we have been developing an additional pathway to integration for schools which wish to embark on that journey.
We have also been working out the best ways to get the input of as many stakeholders as possible on this new pathway, and are still very much in the process of listening and taking on board views. It has been heartening to see that so far, the idea of the new pathway has received positive responses not only from within integrated education, but also beyond it.
Hand in hand with working to increase the number of children accessing integrated education is the need to build relationships, to hear as wide a range of views as possible so as to widen our influence. We have made a point this year of listening, not only to schools, but also to others, both supporters of integrated education and those whose allegiances lie elsewhere. This has included stakeholders from the business community, political parties, the voluntary sector, and academia as well as representatives of the Catholic sector, state sector and Irish Language sector. We have made a formal presentation to the Stormont Education Committee, and have had meetings with the Minister of Education.
The input of all our stakeholders is invaluable to us in shaping the future direction for integrated education in Northern Ireland and the Policy and Planning Committee looks forward to another year of connecting, listening, and developing approaches which will mean that more and more of our children can access integrated education.
Dr Helen McLaughlin, Chair