NICIE’s Statement of Principles states that ‘the support and commitment of parents is a fundamental element of Integrated Education and historically parents have been central to the development of integrated schools.’
There are two types of integrated school in Northern Ireland: Grant Maintained Integrated schools which are new ‘greenfield site’ schools and Controlled Integrated schools which has been created through the transformation of an existing school. Grant Maintained Integrated schools have 16 governors on their body, six of whom are parents and Controlled Integrated schools have four parents on their governing body. This provides a higher level of Parental Involvement than would be the case in some other types of schools.
It is important to understand how the two different types of schools arise; Grant Maintained Integrated schools stem from a parent body setting up a new school to meet the demand for Integrated Education in their area. The parents will have tested for the process of transformation in the schools in the surrounding area and only where this is unsuccessful, can the parent group proceed with the Grant Maintained Integrated school proposal. On the other hand transformed Integrated schools are created by an existing school balloting its parents to become an Integrated school.
Thus the involvement of parents at the inception of both the Grant Maintained and the Controlled Transformed schools gives an enormous sense of ownership to the parents. Integrated schools seek to encourage and sustain this high level of parental involvement through a number of means such as membership of the Board of Governors or membership of the Parents’ Councils which operate integrated schools.