11 Feb

Tribal politics restricting growth of integrated education, MPs told

Tribal politics restricting growth of integrated education, MPs toldLack of vision, tribal politics and systemic inertia have restricted the growth of integrated education, a Westminster inquiry has heard.

MPs were told that “unacceptable segregation” continued to flourish in the design of Northern Ireland’s education system.

The comments were made in a submission to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee by Nigel Frith, principal of Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh.

The cross-party group is holding an inquiry examining whether the level of money allocated to education is sufficient to meet the challenges facing the sector.

A report from the auditor general found the education system was coming close to a tipping point.

While funding had increased between 2012/13 and 2016/17, there has been a 9.3 per cent reduction in real terms. In that time, more schools have found themselves in the red.

Mr Frith made his written submission to highlight the financial, economic, educational and social importance of integrated education.

Just 65 of the north’s 1,176 schools are integrated.

Mr Frith wrote that the financial benefits were striking.
“Following the integrated model, the needs of the local and school community are met by one principal, one senior leadership team, one workforce and one site/building. This is in stark contrast to the wasteful duplication of systems that exists across Northern Ireland today – duplication that we clearly cannot afford,” he said.


7 Feb

Schools warned not to bow to parental pressure and exceed admissions numbers

Schools warned not to bow to parental pressure and exceed admissions numbersSchools are being urged to stand firm against parents whose children are refused places – even if they send them on day one in full uniform.

There are fears that with a higher number of pupils it may be harder to get into popular schools.

Unions have described this year’s application process as a “scramble”.

There have been occasions where children who were denied their first choice school were sent regardless, and in uniform.

Principals have been warned they will be acting unlawfully by bowing to such pressure – and also risk being stripped of funding.


4 Feb

Tim McGarry: ‘Our home set on fire, family friends murdered, riots …

Tim McGarry: ‘Our home set on fire, family friends murdered, riots …the Troubles were the soundtrack to my life and they scarred me’

Tim McGarryAs he puts the finishing touches to his new show, the Belfast comedian tells Leona O’Neill how his family was almost killed in a sectarian arson attack, why he backs integrated education and of his sorrow that his father never saw him appear on television.


7 Jan

Unions demand action as Northern Ireland schools face ‘unprecedented funding crisis’

unprecedented funding crisisLeaders of the three main teaching unions in Northern Ireland will this week call for the Government to intervene to prevent an “unprecedented funding crisis” within the education system here.

Geri Cameron, president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NI), said schools have faced a 10% budget cut over the past five years, yet the classroom population is at its highest for 20 years.

She said this had put an increasing financial burden on parents.

Ms Cameron, who is principal of Loughshore Educational Centre, will be among those giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday.


3 Jan

Primary school roll-calls reach 20-year high

Primary school roll-calls reach 20-year highThe number of pupils in Northern Ireland’s primary schools is at its highest in almost 20 years.

There are now 174,522 children in P1-7, the ninth successive year in which the total has increased.

With the education system at a “tipping point” financially, teachers fear the result will be even larger classes.

Unions have warned that many class sizes are already incompatible with modern teaching and learning practice.

Department of Education figures show pupil numbers continue to increase even though there are fewer primary schools year on year.

Data taken from the school enrolments census, which was conducted in October 2018, show 23 primary schools closed between 2014 and this year.

However, enrolments in P1-7 jumped by 800 pupils on last year. This is the highest number of primary school pupils recorded since 1999.


19 Dec

The first student from the integrated sector to receive an Allstar.

Matthew Murnaghan from Drumragh Integrated College is the first student from the integrated sector to receive an Allstar.Centre-half back Matthew Murnaghan is the first student from the integrated sector to receive an Allstar.

Matthew attends Drumragh College on the outskirts of Omagh and was a member of the school team that made a breakthrough this time two years ago when they won the Danske Bank JJ Reilly Cup – again a first for schools in the integrated sector.

Since then, Sperrin in Magherafelt have also picked up a trophy, while yesterday in the Mid Ulster Sports Arena (MUSA) in Cookstown more history was made when two Integrated schools, Drumragh and Lagan College, Belfast contested this year’s JJ Reilly Cup final, with Lagan coming out on top.

Matthew is an Ulster and All-Ireland medallist with the Tyrone U17s from 2017. He has also played at U20 level for the county in 2018 and a couple of weeks ago Micky Harte brought him into the senior county panel following some outstanding displays for Killyclogher minors and seniors, both of whom reached theire respective county championship finals this year.


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