NICIE is very saddened to learn of the death of Lord Brian Mawhinney and offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends. Lord Mawhinney played a huge role in supporting the Integrated Education movement, particularly in driving the legislation contained in the Education Reform Order (NI) 1989, which contained specific reference to Integrated Education and Transformation.
In an address to the audience at the launch of Jonathan Bardon’s book on the history of All Children Together, in 2010, Lord Brian Mawhinney remarked that one of the most memorable moments of his political career had been putting Integrated Education in Northern Ireland on the statute book. The 1989 Education Reform order placed a statutory duty on the Department of Education to encourage and facilitate integrated education. Lord Mawhinney pointed out that he had written those words in deliberately because he wanted to ensure that the Department would throw its weight behind facilitating those parents who wanted an Integrated Education for their children. Lord Mawhinney remarked on how taken he had been by the founders of Integrated Education, the movement of parents known as All Children Together. This group of ordinary people had a simple wish to have their Catholic and Protestant children educated together rather than in separate schools. Beginning in the 1970s, this honest group of parents took on the establishment, against the backdrop of the Troubles and against considerable clerical and political opposition. Not satisfied with merely changing legislation to allow schools to become integrated, the All Children Together movement started their own school Lagan College in 1981.
Integrated Education continues to grow and develop. There are now 65 integrated schools, educating over 24,000 children. Over the past year, there have been six parental ballots for transformation of existing schools to become integrated. We are very grateful to Lord Mawhinney for his foresight in developing legislation which offered the opportunity for children to be educated together in one school on a daily basis.