12 Mar

Post-primary schools in Northern Ireland get pupil boost

Post-primary schools in Northern Ireland get pupil boostTwenty post-primary schools across Northern Ireland are to get extra places for new pupils in 2019.

The Department of Education (DE) has made the move in order to cope with an expected increase in Year Eight pupil numbers in some areas.

Most of the places are for schools in the Belfast, North Down and Ards areas.

However, Bangor Grammar School principal Elizabeth Huddleson told BBC News NI she was “deeply disappointed” that it had been given no extra places.

In all, 413 additional places are being provided in 20 schools this September.

Bangor Academy, Strangford Integrated College and Hazelwood Integrated College are to get 40 extra places each.

Regent House Grammar School and Lisnagarvey High School will get 30 extra places, while Ashfield Boys’ High School, Belfast Model School for Girls, Aquinas Grammar School, Lagan College, St Pius X College in Magherafelt and St Patrick’s College in Dungannon are to get 20 additional places.

Priory Integrated College in Holywood is to get 23 more places, Ashfield Girls’ High School 17 extra places and St Columbanus’ College in Bangor and St Patrick’s Academy in Dungannon 15 additional places each.

Dromore High School is to get 12 more Year Eight places, Strathearn School and Glastry College 10 each, Antrim Grammar School eight and Nendrum College three.


11 Mar

Maxine Mawhinney talks to Leona O’Neill

Maxine Mawhinney talks to Leona O'NeillNow retired from reporting, next month the Belfast-born journalist will become an ambassador for the NI Hospice, a charity close to her heart after the deaths of her sister and stepfather from cancer.

She is one of the most well-known journalists to come out of Northern Ireland and working on some of the world’s biggest news stories while juggling single motherhood, she blazed a trail for strong, fearless female reporters in what had been predominantly a man’s world.

… Maxine says she feels that part of Northern Ireland’s problem is educating our children separately. “I am a real supporter of the Integrated Education Fund,” she says.

“Having grown up through a segregated system and then travelled the world with my children who grew up in non-segregated systems, I can see the damage that that kind of isolation – particularly in our community – can do.

“I think separating children along religious grounds is not a good idea. Integrated education just takes away the ‘them and us’ scenario.”…


1 Mar

Industrial action backed by head teachers in Northern Ireland

Industrial action backed by head teachers in Northern IrelandA union representing many school leaders in Northern Ireland has received an “unprecedented” mandate for industrial action.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) represents principals and vice-principals in about two thirds of NI’s 1,100 schools.

In the union’s indicative ballot, school leaders voted overwhelmingly to proceed to a formal vote on action.

In total 93% of its members voted for industrial action short of striking.

Action up to and including strike action was backed by 58% of members.

The NAHT now has a mandate to proceed to a formal ballot on whether to take either strike action – or action short of that – if they decide to do so.

NAHT NI president Geri Cameron said the move was unprecedented.

“Head teachers are a very moderate group of people, but we are stretched to the limit,” she said.

“We haven’t escalated our dispute over pay. Our issues are around special educational needs, workload, the general slice of the cake schools get.


28 Feb

Cranmore Integrated pupils working to better understand different faiths

Cranmore Integrated pupils working to better understand different faithsPupils at an award-winning integrated school have been visiting places of worship to better understand different faiths.

Children from Cranmore IPS in south Belfast spent time at the Belfast Islamic Centre, the Belfast Hebrew Congregation, Clonard Monastery and St Anne’s Cathedral.

They later produced artwork based on their experiences, which have been donated to their hosts.

Cranmore IPS opened in 1993 at the tail end of the Troubles with just 36 pupils in a former children’s home. A documentary at the time highlighted the struggle of establishing the school in the context of the political landscape.

A quarter of a century later, it is thriving with more than 230 pupils. It was honoured with the Excellence in Integrated Education Award in recognition of its commitment to the integrated ethos.


28 Feb

Officials ‘talking NI schools into gutter’, says Paisley

Officials 'talking NI schools into gutter', says PaisleyIan Paisley has accused the children’s commissioner and an education expert of talking Northern Ireland “right into the gutter”.

Ian Paisley made the comments in response to claims by Sir Robert Salisbury.

Sir Robert previously reported on education funding in Northern Ireland for the Department of Education (DE).

He said some of NI’s top schools are “exam factories” which can create stress for pupils, but do very well.

At the meeting, Sir Robert said it was an “enduring myth” that Northern Ireland had one of the best education systems in Europe.

Ms Yiasouma also told the committee that academic selection was the “biggest injustice in our education system”.

“If Northern Ireland is to have a shared future we need to educate Protestant and Catholic children and our increasingly diverse community together and we need to educate our boys and girls together, but for me the greatest injustice is what we do to our children from socially disadvantaged areas,” she said.

“It’s not a fair education system”.


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.


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