The Growth of Integrated Education since the Good Friday Agreement
In 1998 the year the Belfast Agreement was signed, 11,910 children were being educated in 43 integrated schools, three of which were not funded by the government at that stage and were reliant on charitable funds. These were Oakwood Integrated Primary School, Ulidia and Strangford Colleges. These are thriving schools today with very healthy enrolments.
The Belfast Agreement contained the following statement in the section entitled Reconciliation and Victims of Violence “An essential aspect of the reconciliation process is the promotion of a culture of tolerance at every level of society, including initiatives to facilitate and encourage integrated education and mixed housing.”
Today there are 65 integrated schools, educating 23,088 pupils (DE figures, October 2017).
Roisin Marshall CEO of the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education commented:
“Whilst the number of pupils attending integrated schools has doubled in the 20 years since the Belfast Agreement, many schools continue to be over-subscribed and therefore there is still great potential for increasing the places for young people. The growth to date has come from the commitment of parents, governors and teachers to educating Catholic and Protestant children together with children from other religions, cultures and communities in the same school, all day, every day, to build reconciliation.”
The good news is that any school, except hospital schools and special schools can become integrated via a legal process called Transformation. Information on how this can be done can be found on the DE website.
Parents can register their interest for integrated provision in their area by logging on to www.integratemyschool.com
For further information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact Roisin Marshall, Chief Executive Officer at NICIE at (028) 9097 2910 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to the Editor
- In Northern Ireland, about 93% of children attend schools which are either exclusively or predominantly Catholic or Protestant. The first integrated school, Lagan College, opened in 1981 with 28 pupils. There are currently 65 integrated schools in Northern Ireland, 20 second level colleges and 45 integrated primaries, altogether educating over 23,000 pupils.
In October 2017 there were 1016 primary and post primary schools in Northern Ireland. There are 1153 schools of all types compared with 1272 schools in October 2006.
Excluding the integrated schools, of the primary and post-primary schools, only 91 have a mix of at least 10% of both Protestants and Catholics in them. That is only 9 % of the schools have that mix of 10% or more, 67 primary schools and 24 post-primary schools.
Including the integrated schools, the number with at least 10% Protestant and 10% Catholic goes to 152, 15%.
- The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) is a non-departmental public body that develops, supports and promotes integrated education in Northern Ireland. The underpinning principle of integrated education is that by bringing together Catholic, Protestant and children of other faith and cultural backgrounds in a shared environment, they can learn to understand, respect and appreciate difference. Integrated schools are also co-educational, accept children of all levels of ability and social background and practice a child-centred approach via their teaching methods. There are 65 integrated schools educating over 23,000 pupils. For more information please visit nicie.org