Transformation FAQs

If you can not find the answer you are looking for or if you have any further queries contact Eleanor Kyle by email Eleanor@ief.org.uk or telephone 028 9069 4099

What is Transformation?
What is Integrated Education?
How many Integrated Schools are there?
How many schools have become integrated through the process of transformation?
How long does the process take?
How does the process start?
What is the parental ballot, and who is eligible to vote?
What happens after a ballot in favour of transformation?
Who writes the Development Proposal and Action Plan, and what needs to be included?
Who decides if the school will be allowed to transform?
Will the school receive more money if it becomes integrated?
Will my child be asked to play sports associated with specific cultural traditions as part of PE?
How will RE be taught if the school becomes integrated?
At the moment my school is under the authority of the Education Authority. Will this still be the case if the school becomes integrated?
How will the management of the school be affected if it becomes integrated?
What support will be available for the school if it decides to become integrated?
If I want my school to become integrated, what should I do, or who should I talk to?
My school has been highlighted under Area Based Planning as one in which a ‘local solution’ is to be explored. Will transformation influence/affect that?
Does transformation guarantee an increase in pupil numbers?
Can my school be closed during the period when we are looking at integration?

 

What is Transformation?

Transformation is a process which involves a school changing its status to become integrated*. Alongside this, the school takes steps to develop its ethos to ensure that the school is recognised as being open and welcoming to pupils from all backgrounds. The school is also likely to make some changes to its governance structure and in addition may carry out a review of its curriculum provision and resources. More information on these changes can be found here.

*Any school is able to transform to integrated status, with the exception a special school and a school established in a hospital.

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What is Integrated Education?

Integrated education is when children from all religious traditions are brought together, and taught side by side in the same school. Integrated education encourages children to recognise what they share in common as well as what makes them different, and it promotes the expression of different cultures and traditions.

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How many Integrated Schools are there?

There are currently 65 integrated schools across Northern Ireland; 45 Primary schools and 20 Post-Primary schools.

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How many schools have become integrated through the process of transformation?

Since 1991, 25 schools have transformed to integrated status; 20 Primary Schools and 5 Post-Primary schools. For a list of these schools, click here.

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How long does the process take?

The process of transformation can take less than a year or it can take three years or more. Each school moves forward at its own pace but in each case the process includes the same stages:

  • The consultation stage involves information being provided to the Board of Governors, school staff, parents and local community.
  • The formal process begins when the Board of Governors or at least 20% of parents request a ballot to be held on transformation.
  • If DE approves the transformation, the school will begin taking steps towards integration. This is a continuing journey for the school.

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How does the process start?

The consultation process can be started by any group involved in the school. However to move onto the ballot phase, the Board of Governors must pass a resolution to hold a ballot, or at least 20% of parents must request the ballot. The Board of Governors will then write to the managing authority to notify them of this decision. The ballot must be held between 1-3 months of this happening.

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What is the parental ballot, and who is eligible to vote?

The parental ballot is the opportunity for parents to vote on whether they want the school to transform. The ballot is postal and organised by an independent organisation known as the Electoral Reform Service (ERS), therefore all responses remain confidential. Every adult registered as a parent of a child at the school will get a vote.

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What happens after a ballot in favour of transformation?

At least 50% of parents must vote for the result to be considered. If there is a turn-out of less than 50% then a second ballot will automatically take place. If 51% or more of those who have voted, vote in favour of transformation, then a development proposal for transformation must be submitted to the local Education and Library Board. The Board will then publish an advertisement in the press and there will be a two month consultation period during which time relevant supporting data from the school (including an Action Plan for Integration) will be lodged with the Department of Education.

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Who writes the Development Proposal and Action Plan, and what needs to be included?

The Development Proposal will be submitted to the Education and Library Board by the Board of Governors. It will be written by the principal with input from the senior staff and other support bodies such as the Education and Library Boards and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education. Teachers and parents are likely to have some involvement at a consultative level. The development proposal and action plan must outline how the school will remain viable in future years, how and when changes will be made to ensure there is an integrated ethos and the school is open to all, and also how the school will ensure that the appropriate religious balance is achieved.

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Who decides if the school will be allowed to transform?

The final decision regarding the transformation rests with the Minister for Education who will base their judgement on the information available to them. This will include data relating to long term viability, educational standards and the ability of the school to achieve and maintain religious balance. Schools must be able to demonstrate that they can achieve a minimum of 10% of their Year1/Year8 intake from the minority population within the school’s enrolment and also the potential to achieve a minimum of 30% in the longer term.

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Will the school receive more money if it becomes integrated?

No. Integrated schools receive the same funding as other schools though the Department of Education has undertaken to provide some financial assistance to transforming schools to help them during the first years of the process.

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Will my child be asked to play sports associated with specific cultural traditions as part of PE?

Your school will try to cater for the cultural interests, including games, of both the main traditions of Northern Ireland. All pupils will be able to participate or not, as they wish.

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How will RE be taught if the school becomes integrated?

All schools, including integrated schools, are required to follow a core RE curriculum agreed by the four main churches. The Board of Governors will ensure that provision is made for Catholic children whose parents wish them to be prepared for the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Financial support may be available from the Department of Education to help school’s access specialist teaching for sacramental preparation.

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At the moment my school is under the authority of the Education Authority. Will this still be the case if the school becomes integrated?

Transforming schools can choose to be either Grant Maintained Integrated or Controlled Integrated, but all transforming schools to date have been controlled schools which have decided to remain with the Education Authority and have taken on Controlled Integrated Status.

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How will the management of the school be affected if it becomes integrated?

The Board of Governors will increase in size to reflect the interests of the minority community. Additional places will also be made available for ‘parent governors’ to allow greater parental involvement in the running of the school.

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What support will be available for the school if it decides to become integrated?

The IEF, the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and your local ELB will be available to offer guidance and support at all stages of the transformation process. The services and support offered by these organisations will continue even after integrated status has been achieved. For more information on the support available from the IEF, click here.

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If I want my school to become integrated, what should I do, or who should I talk to?

The first person you ask about transformation should be your school principal, or your Board of Governors. If you would like more information about what transformation is before contacting your school, you can contact the IEF, NICIE, or your local ELB, who should all be able to provide you with some more information.

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My school has been highlighted under Area Based Planning as one in which a ‘local solution’ is to be explored. Will transformation influence/affect that?

Transformation can be raised as an option for your school within the ABP. If a development proposal is submitted to the DE for transformation, the long-term viability of the school will have to be proven in order to gain approval.

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Does transformation guarantee an increase in pupil numbers?

No. There is no guarantee that becoming integrated will result in an increase in pupil numbers, however it is possible that there will be an increase, as the school will be providing for and open to children from all backgrounds.

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Can my school be closed during the period when we are looking at integration?

Legislation states that a school cannot transform once a development proposal for closure has been submitted. If the managing authority for the school has confirmed it will close, or has already closed it, it is not possible for the school to transform or re-open.

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