18 Nov

Rising BBC star Holly Hamilton on wanting to do Strictly, the trolling of her colleague Mike Bushell & passion for integrated education

Rising BBC star Holly Hamilton on wanting to do Strictly, the trolling of her colleague Mike Bushell & passion for integrated educationFrom different backgrounds in Northern Ireland – Connor went to the Abbey Grammar School in Newry, while Holly went to Regent House in Newtownards – together the couple are also big supporters of integrated education.

“We’re both really passionate about it,” says Holly. “Just us being together really highlights the whole issue because of the different experiences we had, and coming to England made it even clearer.


6 Nov

Humanists UK launch religious-free assembly materials for schools

Humanists UK launch religious-free assembly materials for schoolsBritish schools are being offered a programme for morning assemblies that are entirely secular and free of religion for the first time.

All state schools in the UK are currently required to provide an act of daily worship of a “broadly Christian character” under the 1944 Education Act.

But Humanists UK, the campaign group for secularism and non-religious belief, has drawn up an alternative model that takes God out of daily school assemblies, focusing instead on respect for the individual, the environment and justice for the developing world.

The group says its 200 inclusive assemblies will cover 30 diverse themes in Key Stages 1 to 5.


5 Nov

Co Down lad follows in Sir David Attenborough’s footsteps

Co Down lad follows in Sir David Attenborough's footstepsA Co Down teenager has said he was “humbled and deeply grateful” to be named the youngest every recipient of the prestigious RSPB Medal.

Dara McAnulty, 15, thought it was “a joke” when he learned he would be joining a list of winners that includes conservation greats like Sir David Attenborough , Chris Mead and Bill Oddie.

The ‘young naturalist’, who is publishing his first book next year, was presented the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds award by the charity’s chair Kevin Cox at the QEII Centre in Westminster last Saturday.

The Shimna Integrated College pupil, who raised £6,000 to satellite tag the RSPB’s red kites and Buzzards in a first of its kind project in Northern Ireland, is also a keen supporter of the School Climate Strikes and Extinction Rebellion.


29 Oct

Education in NI shouldn’t be a tug of war between religious interests

Education in NI shouldn’t be a tug of war between religious interestsA report has called into question religious control over the curriculum and ethos of Northern Irish schools. Alastair Lichten says it should prompt a re-evaluation of the segregated, inefficient system which exists now.

“If education in NI is to be transformed to fit the needs of a diverse society and support the embedding of peace, the centrality of the churches in education needs to be reviewed. In an increasingly unreligious and multi-faith society is it still appropriate, 100 years after transfer, for the transferor churches and the Catholic Church to wield the influence that they do?”

That’s the conclusion of a new paper by Ulster University researcher Dr Matthew Milliken, published this month. It is the second in the “transforming education” series, supported by UNESCO and the Integrated Education Fund – which was recently shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work.


22 Oct

Integration in action – AgendaNI

Integration in action - AgendaNIDavid Whelan talked to Barry Corr, Principal of Seaview Primary School in Glenarm, a school on the verge of becoming the first faith school to transform to integrated status in Northern Ireland, about the journey to integration.

School integration in Northern Ireland is far from a new concept. Department of Education figures show that there are currently 62 grant-aided integrated schools in Northern Ireland with a total enrolment of 21,956 pupils, around 7 per cent of the pupil total and in 2019 alone, seven schools have voted to transform to integrated status.

Integration and the desire for integrated education in Northern Ireland is also a long-standing legacy. The 1923 Education Act Northern Ireland set out a vision for all children to attend the same non-denominational schools, with no religious instruction during school hours. The bill was met with great resistance from both the Catholic and Protestant churches and was essentially amended to revert the system back to segregation as had been the case.


21 Oct

A reflection on the education system in Northern Ireland…

A reflection on the education system in Northern Ireland…N Ireland has retained the original grammar and secondary school system, but with the complication of two parallel systems based on religious (sectarian) divisions, one largely protestant and the other mostly Catholic. In addition, around 7% of school children here now attend an integrated school.[4] While the 11+ was abolished from 2008, grammar schools still select on the basis of external tests at this age; there are two providers. Up to 70% of school children sit these tests annually. If the concepts of selection, grammar and secondary schools represented the best of thinking in the 1940s, I think that today these principles are deeply problematic. What was the basis for selection used in the 11+?


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