Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education Press Release:
Tuesday 9 February 2021.
For immediate release
Last week the Minister for Education rejected a proposal from Strangford College to expand its admission numbers.
Strangford Integrated College submitted a development proposal to the Department of Education requesting an additional 20 pupils per year, bringing their admission number to 130. The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) has been actively supporting the school to bring forward this proposal which was published in February 2020.
Over recent years the level of demand for Integrated Education at Strangford College has led to a series of temporary variations being granted by the Department of Education to help meet strong parental preference. Unmet demand for Integrated Education can be seen across Northern Ireland. In the 2018/19 academic year, 21% of pupils who had placed an Integrated Post Primary School as their first choice could not be accommodated. This proposal would have gone some way towards meeting this demand in the Ards and North Down area.
NICIE are disappointed that the Minister for Education has not approved the Proposal. The reasons cited by the Minister for rejection were outlined as the negative impact on other non-selective schools and the need for a wider area solution. NICIE would question the consistency of how these reasons have been applied, given the same rationale was not utilised when the Minister gave approval to increase admissions for another school in the same area. The rejection of Strangford College’s proposal would appear to be at odds with the Department’s statutory duty to encourage and facilitate the development of Integrated Education.