Sharing Between Schools
Our aim is simple. We want to enable as many children as possible to learn together in an environment that celebrates, not fears, religious and cultural diversity. We are also working towards a time when organisations like ours will no longer need to exist; when integration not separation is the norm in our education system.
In addition to the grants we have available for those wishing to explore transformation to integrated status, the IEF runs several additional grant making programmes throughout the year, such as the PACT (Promoting A Culture of Trust) programme which is open to all schools. The PACT programme is designed to support schools and groups which give equal recognition to and promote equal expression of the two main traditions in Northern Ireland, encouraging the development of understanding and respect.
To find out more information about the grant programmes currently available please click here.
Becoming An Integrated School
What is “Integrated Education”?
Integrated schools bring together children and adults from Catholic, Protestant and other backgrounds in each school. The schools strive to achieve a religious balance of pupils, teachers and governors and acknowledge and respect the cultural diversity they represent.
Integrated schools educate children in an environment where self-esteem and independence are developed as priorities. Self-respect and respect for others are strongly encouraged. The integrated ethos is nurtured to ensure inclusion of people from different religions, cultures, genders, abilities and socio-economic backgrounds.
Integrated education encourages open-minded attitudes among pupils as well as building the confidence and ability to question, observe, listen and make informed decisions.
Integrated education recognises the value of parents and so parental involvement in all aspects of school life is actively encouraged. Parents are encouraged to take an active role in the governance of the school and the Parent’s Council.
What is “transformation”?
Transformation is the process of changes which happens when an existing school chooses to become integrated.
This means that it will be recognised officially as an integrated school, basing its principles on those underpinning the concept of integrated education.
How does a school “transform”?
The transformation process can be started in two ways:
- by the Board of Governors of the school;
- by a written request from at least 20% of parents to the Board of Governors
In either case, a vote of the parents (operated through a confidential ballot) is required.
If the vote is “Yes”, a proposal is submitted to the local Education and Library Board and the Department of Education for consideration.
A decision can be expected about three months after the proposal is submitted. If the school is approved, it must work towards meeting the conditions set out by the Department of Education for effective integration.
If the vote is “No”, the school retains its original status.
What aspects of the school will change if the school transforms?
Each school will look at this individually but it is likely that changes will be made as to how the school is organised and managed. The following are some examples of changes that may happen over time:
- The governing body will be restructured to create a shared institution which includes members of both the Protestant and Catholic faiths.
- Some schools have chosen new names when they transformed as a mark of a new era in the school’s life. Generally a new teacher will be recruited to the school to provide Religious Education to a broader range of children.
- Many school policies will be reviewed, particularly in the area of curriculum. In second level schools, while the school will continue to teach the Northern Ireland Curriculum, key areas for attention may include Religious Education, Personal Development and Mutual Understanding and the Citizenship strand in Learning for Life and Work, Sport, Music, History, Languages and Literature. In primary schools, the school will continue to teach the Northern Ireland Curriculum and key areas for attention may include Religious Education, Personal Development and Mutual Understanding, Physical Education and the World Around Us.
The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and the local Education and Library Board can provide support to the school community in the process of transformation. This support might include facilitated training and support sessions for parents, governors and staff. It may also include advice and guidance on more sensitive issues relating to integration and inclusion.
The aim of these gradual changes is to have the school recognised as a fully integrated community which welcomes children from all faiths and none.
To Download the Department of Education´s Transformation – An Information Pack for Schools please click here.