Lorna McAlpine, MBE

Lorna McAlpine receives an MBE for Services to Integrated Education

NICIE once again congratulates our colleague Lorna McAlpine, Senior Development Officer, who received her MBE recently. Lorna accepted the accolade on behalf of all she works and has worked with throughout her time at NICIE and all of those who have strived to encourage, facilitate and develop Integrated Education over the years.

You can read our previous report here from when Lorna was first informed that she was to recieve a very well deserved and special honour from Her Majesty the Queen in the recent Queen’s Birthday Honours for Services to Integrated Education.



Oliver Jeffers announced as new NICIE Patron

Oliver Jeffers welcomed as Patron of Integrated Education and launches a series of reading events in association with Libraries NI + Harper Collins Children’s publisher.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) is very excited to announce Oliver Jeffers as its newest patron and supporter of Integrated Education. Oliver, a past pupil of Hazelwood Integrated College, is the first NICIE patron to have attended an integrated school.
 Oliver Jeffers is a visual artist and author working in painting, bookmaking, illustration, collage, performance and sculpture. Jeffers’ engagements and practice are truly international in scope. His critically acclaimed picture books have been translated into over forty languages and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. His original artwork has been exhibited at such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, the National Portrait Gallery in London, and the Palais Auersperg in Vienna. Jeffers has been the recipient of numerous awards, including a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books Award, Bologna Rigazzi Award, An Irish Book Award and a United Kingdom Literary Association Award. He has just released his sixteenth book as author and illustrator in November 2017, and has illustrated several others. Oliver grew up in Belfast, Northern Ireland; he currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Oliver states; “Experiencing Integrated Education back in the 1990s was pivotal to my preparation for life in and outside of Northern Ireland. I believe the more people understand each other’s cultures – the nuances, and history – the better we all become as a community. Living in New York now, the definition of integration is very different and puts our integration in perspective, as imprudent. Respect, consideration, and tolerance are key, to show our children how to make sense of the world and learn alongside one another.”

Oliver is a great addition to an impressive list of celebrity patrons which include Sir Kenneth Branagh, Dame Mary Peters, Carl Frampton MBE, Patrick Kielty, Connor Phillips and Holly Hamilton.(who only last week officially opened Corran Integrated Primary + Nursery in Larne).

Roisin Marshall, NICIE CEO added “I am absolutely thrilled that Oliver has agreed to join us as a patron of NICIE. This is particularly poignant and special, as Oliver is a past pupil and has had first-hand experience of Integrated Education. Oliver and his wife Suzanne have been extremely generous with their support to Integrated Education in the past and we are extremely grateful to them for their dedication to this noble cause, where we aim to educate young people from across the divides in N Ireland on a daily basis. It is a great honour and endorses the work that we do in aiming to create a better future for all of our young people by ensuring that as many Catholic, Protestant and other families as possible can avail of Integrated Education. All of those working in Integrated Education are passionate about educating children from different communities together in one school and work hard to ensure that we do all they do all they can to meet parental demand for Integrated Education.”

To celebrate the patronage NICIE have teamed up with Libraries NI and children’s publisher Harper Collins on a series of reading events of Oliver works. His latest book “The Fate of Fausto” was published last month. The events launched yesterday in Omagh and continue as below, with each local integrated school partnering with their local Library. Teachers will facilitate the readings and associated teaching aids on hand to make a fun event for those wanting to attend. 

  1. Omagh Integrated Primary School – Omagh Library
    Wednesday 20th November at 10.30am.
  2. Hazelwood Integrated Primary School – Grove Library
    Thursday 21st November at 1.30pm.
  3. Annsborough Integrated Primary School – Castlewellan Library
    Friday 22nd November at 1.00pm
  4. Carnlough Integrated Primary School – Carnlough Library
    Saturday 30th November at 11.00am

Official opening of Corran Integrated Primary School

Celebrity Couple Connor Phillips and Holly Hamilton officially open Corran Integrated PS, Larne to the great delight of pupils.

Connor Phillips and Holly Hamilton, NICIE patrons surprised guests and students at Corran Integrated Primary School, Larne, when they arrived to carry out the official opening of the new school building. 

Corran Integrated Primary School opened in 1991.  In its short history, the school has made an indelible impact on the local community and has become an inextricable part of the fabric of Larne and its wider environs.

Welcoming Connor and Holly, Roisin Marshall CEO of the NI Council for Integrated Education said, “I am so happy that Connor and Holly have been able to join us today to carry out the official opening of this beautiful new school building. This is the third new build to open through the Fresh Start Initiative and I am looking forward to seeing further progress on the remaining projects.  We are very grateful to our colleagues in the Department of Education and the school’s project team. This has given Integrated Education an invaluable boost enabling schools that started as a twinkle in parents’ eyes to grow and be the strong, sustainable, integrated schools that they dreamed off creating.” 

The school community felt very honoured to have Connor and Holly join them. The celebrations included pupils interviewing Connor and Holly for the “Corran Show” as well as taking a trip back in time in the school’s Tardis with Dr Who.  

Paying tribute to the work of all of those involved in Integrated Education, Connor and Holly said, “We are very pleased to offer our support for Integrated Education and it’s particularly nice to be here in Larne today.  We’ve had a delightful day and really enjoyed meeting the young people.  It’s been especially good to have the opportunity to spend time in this lovely new integrated school building and to support NICIE in the vital work they do with parents, schools and young people to help bring more people together in Northern Ireland and make it a better place for all of us. Indeed, we’ve been completely overwhelmed by the welcome and wonderful reception we’ve received here.”

Denise Macfarlane, Principal of Corran Integrated Primary School said “It is a great honour to have Connor and Holly here today to help us celebrate.  We are delighted with our new, purpose -built school building, it’s like a dream come true! Our school started in 1991 in an industrial estate then moved to mobile classrooms in Blackcave North the following year. It’s been a long wait but it’s been worth it!”

Connor and Holly are amongst a very impressive list of celebrity patrons of Integrated Education which includes Carl Frampton MBE, Patrick Kielty, Dame Mary Peters and Sir Kenneth Branagh.


Lord Brian Mawhinney

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.

Integrating in the Early Years Conference, Oxford Island

A great day was had by all at this years Integrating in the Early Years conference at Oxford Island. The weather even held up for us all too!

While Roisin Marshall from NICIE opened the day (and you can see her remarks on our Facebook page here) the focus really was on STEM and Outdoor Play, with our keynote speaker Julie Mountain from Play Learning Life leading the way. If you were there you may have been as glued to her “Stepping Forward into STEAM” discussion as we were, but it is all available on the Play Learning Life website (let us know if you can’t find it!). The focus really was about learning outdoors, and encouraging children to explore and play – and not wrap them in cotton wool! As the Health and Safety Executive themselves said “No child will learn about risk if they are wrapped in
cotton wool.”

Our outdoor workshops were based around this as well, using what is available outside of the classroom to help children grow and learn, whether that was to go and explore their surroundings and use nature to support STEAM subjects (and do it all on a budget) or simply through play, lead by Julie Mountain and Kierna Corr. Staff from NICIE even gave a taster session on our Anti-Bias training, unfortunately inside, and you can read more about the course here.

In the afternoon Deirdre O’Reilly from Mill Strand Integrated Primary School discussed some of the inspiring ways they get children involved in STEAM. At the same time Andy from LearningSPACE gave a great presentation on the sensory impacts some children can feel and some ways of helping them to grow and participate each day.

Thanks to the IEF for organising and sponsoring the whole day, you may find some pictures of yourselves in the gallery below.


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NICIE - Early Years Conference - Oxford Island - 17th October 2019Photograph by Declan Roughan