Alliance Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has launched a Private Member’s Bill to promote and support the development of integrated education and wants to hear your views on the issue. The draft bill is open for consultation until the end of January.
Kellie Armstrong said: “The Department of Education has a statutory duty to encourage and facilitate integrated education, but this current legislative framework is insufficient for delivering the significant increase I and others would like to see.
“I want to build on that statutory duty in my Private Member’s Bill and respond to the clear demand for change. A poll carried out by Millward Brown in 2013 showed 83 per cent of people here believe integrated education is a vital part of creating a shared future in Northern Ireland, while 60 per cent of parents would prefer new schools resulting from consolidation of smaller schools be integrated.
“The Bill will seek to expand and reform the current legislation framework, which provides for the provision of integrated education. This Bill is not about devaluing any other sector but rather it is purely about strengthening the current provision, so every parent who wishes to send their child to an integrated school is able to do so.
“Integrated education not only provides social benefits but financial ones as well. It can help reduce the cost of maintaining empty school places, it enables funding to be directed toward pupils rather than sustaining a divided school estate, and it improves sustainability, making it easier to fund the modernisation of the school estate.
“I am now launching a consultation exercise to seek your views on the need for reform of the current system of integrated education in general, and your views on the proposals I am suggesting to address the need for change.”
Consultation closes on 31 January 2017. The consultation survey on the Integrated Education Bill can be accessed at www.kelliearmstrongmla.co.uk/haveyoursay