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 proposal is approved, the school 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 the schools will make changes as to how they are organised and managed. The following are some examples of changes that schools may make 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 so that the school will be recognised as a fully integrated community which welcomes children from all faiths and none.
To Download the Department of Education´s Integration Works – Transforming your School Guidance for Schools please click here.
For information on IEF Transformation Support Grants please click here.