Aspiration for integration reflected in growth across integrated schools

On Friday (28 June) the results of a parental vote at Seaview Primary School in Glenarm showed 95% support for the school to go through the process termed “transformation” and so become officially integrated. Seaview PS could become the first Catholic Maintained school to be transformed to integrated status.

Barry Corr, principal of Seaview Primary School commented
“These are very exciting times for the parents and everyone connected with Seaview PS, Glenarm. A 95% vote gives the governors the support to proceed with a Development Proposal to transform us to controlled integrated status. Parents in the area have already responded to our plans and we will see over 50% more pupils starting Seaview in September.

I want to thank the parents, staff, governors and the local community for all their support along our journey. The Community Conversation organised by the University of Ulster, the website and The Electoral Reform Service all helped with our success to date. IEF, NICIE, EA and the Department of Education have all given us guidance to ensure we have reached this juncture successfully. Thank you”

Aspiration for integration reflected in growth across integrated schoolsWelcoming the ballot result, Tina Merron, CEO of the integrated Education Fund, said
“This is great news and confirms that parents want good local education provision which serves the whole local community. The vote echoes the findings of successive opinion polls over many years and is further evidence that communities are ready for an education system which is set up for children of all faiths and none to learn, play and grow together. Interest in local schools becoming officially integrated has never been higher. We look forward to supporting Seaview Primary School Glenarm as it works to further develop and strengthen its welcoming and inclusive ethos.”

The vote in Glenarm followed a ballot at Harding Memorial Primary School in east Belfast, again with a substantial majority (87%) support for integration.

The latest votes by parents to bring integration to their children’s schools are representative of the high demand for integrated education across NI. Parents in these locations want to see good local education provision and they recognise the value in developing an integrated school to serve the whole community.

There are 65 integrated schools currently and 25 of these are transformed – ie, they were established as another management type and underwent the official process to become integrated. Parents can express their support for a ballot at their own school through

A parental ballot is the first stage in moving towards formal integrated status; the schools will now work to prepare development proposals to submit to the Department of Education for approval. The NI Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and the IEFwill support the schools throughout the process.

In total four Catholic Maintained schools have voted for integration in recent years:
• Clintyclay Primary School near Dungannon
• St Mary’s High School in Brollagh, County Fermanagh
• Ballyhackett Primary near Coleraine

and now
• Seaview PS in Glenarm

In addition
• Carrickfergus Central PS voted in support of integration in February
• Bangor Central Nursery School voted in support of integration in June
• Harding Memorial PS Belfast voted for integration in June

Transforming a school often brings growth as more families seek integrated education. Cliftonville, Killyleagh and Mallusk Integrated Primary Schools have all seen markedly increased enrolments since becoming integrated.