31 Mar

Education reform must be at the heart of the campaign

by Baroness May Blood, IEF Campaign Chair

After years of complacency it’s time to challenge the notion that the Northern Ireland education system is world-class.  As the Assembly election approaches, it’s a challenge politicians must not ignore. The recent survey by independent research company LucidTalk, shows clear evidence of frustration with the schools system in Northern Ireland, in the face of sluggish progress at Stormont in improving processes and structures.  When participants were asked what three words or expressions came to mind to describe the NI education system, responses included: “entrenching sectarianism”; “divisive”;  wasteful; and “a rudderless, vision-less political football.” (more…)

2 Feb

Integrated schools prove there is an alternative to division….

By Trevor Ringland

For some time, opinion polls have shown a desire from people in Northern Ireland that our children should learn together.  Despite overwhelming support for the idea, there is no clear strategy to end segregation in our education system and only 7% of pupils attend ‘integrated’ schools.  We have a ‘Shared Schools Strategy’, but there are justifiable concerns that, while it pays lip service to sharing, it is chiefly a way of avoiding genuine integration, devised by politicians who are suspicious of the concept. (more…)

28 Jan

Our past should not stop us planning for a united future

By Baroness May Blood, IEF Campaign Chair

A new year is a traditional time for a new beginning.   The media is full of features on new starts and resolutions.  Many of those resolutions will be abandoned by now, as we head into February, but it remains a good opportunity for reflection and planning on the way we move forward as a society.   And of course the start of 2016 is an especially good time to examine the prospects for Northern Ireland, opening as it does an election year for the Assembly. (more…)

21 Jan

Our politicians need to be business-like

A blog post by Tony Carson, businessman and supporter of the Integrated Education Fund.

I was born and began school life in Belfast, though the family moved on as my father Frank’s career took off beyond Northern Ireland. I took a degree in business before moving into the food services sector and later gradually diversifying my activities. I have always maintained an interest in social issues – actively supporting integrated education, for example, whilst keeping a distance from politics. But my frustration with the Stormont parties is mounting. I want to see Northern Ireland flourish; and I realise that we need a genuinely business-like approach to politics and government.

I have frequently set out the economic arguments for a system of integrated schools in NI –rationalisation in the face of budget cuts and over-supply, of places and the improvement to the NI “brand” if we present a cohesive, progressive aspect to the international business community.

But beyond this, applying business sense to the way the Executive and Assembly work would bring dividends for everyone. (more…)

14 Dec

Integrated education will help free us from poison of sectarianism

A blog by Trevor Lunn. Trevor is Alliance MLA for Lagan Valley, having served the constituency in the role since 2007. He is the party’s education spokesperson.

When visiting Northern Ireland in recent years, US President Barack Obama and his predecessor George W Bush both made a point of visiting integrated primary schools.

It was a ringing endorsement of the integrated sector and a chance to showcase on the global stage the benefits and growing popularity of integrated education. This form of education is the best option to help create a shared future for our society and it is vital more is done to help promote it. (more…)

1 Dec

Mission control: we need schools to unite in their vision for the future

Each school in Northern Ireland has its mission statement – and it’s the duty of the board of governors to see that the school reflects and adheres to it. To be clear: each school has its own, individual mission statement.

Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?

Presumably those which mention specifically “academic excellence”, “the Dominican tradition” or “Catholics and Protestants together” give a clue that you are dealing with a particular ethos or admission policy. But isn’t it the role – and therefore the mission – of each and every one of our schools in NI to educate, nurture and develop our children? “Our” children meaning the younger members of the community rather than of any particular family. How can every school be on a different mission? (more…)


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