26 Jun

It’s time to fulfil wishes of people on integration

From Baroness May Blood, Campaign Chair, Integrated Education Fund

Recent visits by Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have highlighted the work of integrated schools, setting them before the international community as an example of the way forward. The United Nations recently judged segregated education to be a major problem here. The poll results show that citizens are acutely aware of the global image of Northern Ireland and want the decision-makers to take segregation out of the education system as a priority. (more…)

21 Jun

When will the Executive take up President Obama’s challenge?

by Marie Cowan, Chairperson, Integrated Education Fund

I was delighted and enormously encouraged by  Barack Obama’s visit to Northern Ireland. His historic and inspirational address at the Waterfront Hall, followed by his visit to Enniskillen Integrated Primary School with Prime Minister David Cameron, put young people at the heart of his vision of a better future for this society.

His recognition of the undeniable benefit of educating young people together, so that they can experience and share their differences, not fear them, is an incredible endorsement of the hard work of so many parents, schools and communities that have led the way in this vital issue. (more…)

17 Jun

Spotlight on Northern Ireland Reveals More Progress Needed

As the G8 leaders (not to mention international media) arrive for the summit in Fermanagh, the eyes of the world are on Northern Ireland.

They will see a beautiful part of the world, however you name it, of which we can be proud.  A green and historic corner of the earth shared between a relatively few lucky people.

They will see a society which has moved on significantly from the notorious Troubles – having made great strides since the Belfast Agreement fifteen years ago. We have even exported peace, lending expertise in community relations and in security to conflicted areas elsewhere.  And talking of export, Northern Ireland business community will be keen to showcase the very best of the place with a view to increasing international standing. (more…)

17 May

Change is a Challenge – and an Opportunity

Patricia Murtagh, Chair of the Assocation of Principal Teachers in Integrated Schools, writes:

The current climate holds many challenges for schools in Northern Ireland.  The issues around viability and sustainability in particular are most pressing and the inevitability of change is clear.  Change need not be feared, though it is inherently difficult to create something new without feeling the loss of the old.

Yet there is a huge opportunity presented to us – the potential for positive change, for renewal, for improvement to our education system through the planned development of our integrated schools in Northern Ireland. (more…)

29 Apr

Baroness May Blood on Shared Education Report: Integrated Schools Share Every Day

The Ministerial Advisory Group on Advancing Shared Education has now presented its findings.  The group was commissioned by the Minister for Education and its report ended with recommendations for the way forward – measures presumably devised to help prepare our young people to play an active role in an open, diverse and inclusive society.  To do this children  surely have to grown up to be both confident in their own identity and culture, and open to and comfortable with diversity. (more…)

21 Mar

It’s up to Communities to Inject Creative Thinking into Primary School Plans

Again the education boards have published plans to reorganise education delivery in Northern Ireland – this time at primary level.  As we saw when proposals for second-level schools were published, the boards are projecting need on the basis of current supply, and are still thinking in terms of separation and segregation.  This betrays a dearth of creative thinking and even a lack of awareness of the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is not only that funds are short and there are surplus desks. It is also that most parents are open to change as long as it means a good education for their children.  The recent opinion poll commissioned from Lucid Talk by the Integrated Education Fund threw up the statistic that a majority of parents would be happy to see their school transform to integrated status.  This isn’t the only evidence of the popularity of integration. There are empty desks in all sectors but integrated schools are bearing up better than other management types overall; some are oversubscribed and at least one will be struggling to accommodate additional pupils when a nearby school closes and parents choose a new one for their family. (more…)

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