NI Government’s responsibility for integrating schools

On the Facing History’s online forum on Northern Ireland and integrated education, Detris Anderson asked me, “What is the government’s responsibility in integrating the schools?”:

The Government in Northern Ireland does not initiate the creation of any new integrated school (nor the transformation of any existing school to become integrated). Instead, the process is started by a group of parents or individuals who first form a Parent Steering Group, which then lobbies for the establishment of an integrated school. All integrated schools in Northern Ireland have been created this way.

The Government at first did not provide any financial support to integrated schools. Government now provides for teachers’ salaries and school equipment, but integrated schools still have to find their own money to buy a site and construct the buildings. Government provides capital funding after three years of the school’s establishment.

The Alliance Party (my employer) has pledged in its election manifesto to the Northern Ireland Assembly to place a duty upon local Education and Library Boards to encourage, not merely to facilitate, the development of integrated education. Alliance would also reform and relax the criteria for the creation and maintenance of integrated schools.

The barriers to the creation and development of integrated education in Northern Ireland, especially considering its deeply divided society, may come as a surprise for all those on this forum who support its merits. It frustrated the American Consul General for Northern Ireland, Barbara Stephenson, who broke protocol and spoke out on this issue recently.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) is a voluntary organisation that serves as an umbrella group for all integrated schools. They also support those who wish to establish an integrated school. I would encourage all readers of this forum to visit the websites of NICIE as well as the Integrated Education Fund (you can even make a donation if you wish!).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s