The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) in Northern Ireland has welcomed the announcement that Harding Memorial Primary School in East Belfast will transform to integrated status from September 2021.
An overwhelming 87% of parents voted in favour of the integrated move in June 2019 and Education Minister, Peter Weir, today (Wednesday 26 May 2021) ratified the proposal for change. Harding Memorial Primary School is the third school to have been approved for integrated status this year.
Tina Merron, Chief Executive of IEF, discusses the news:
“Over the last number of years, the IEF has been working closely with the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education to provide support to Harding Memorial Primary School on its journey towards integration.
“With an overwhelming majority of parents voting in favour of the development, it is brilliant news that Harding Memorial Primary School has now been approved to move to integrated status. The whole school community have been actively involved throughout with parents able to use an innovative website www.integratemyschool.com to confidentially register their support.
“The vote at Harding Memorial echoes the evidence from successive opinion polls which show a growing desire for integrated education throughout Northern Ireland. With this latest announcement the Minister has acknowledged and fulfilled his statutory duty to ‘encourage and facilitate’ integrated education in Northern Ireland.”
Outlining what the development means for the school, Stephen Cumper, Principal of Harding Memorial Primary School, says:
“We are delighted with the Minister’s decision. We can now continue to build on our already inclusive ethos and our commitment to welcoming pupils from all backgrounds. Children are at the heart of the school and the school has been at the heart of the local community for over 100 years. We look forward to providing a quality, inclusive education for the children of this area for the next 100 years and beyond.”
The IEF’s Integrate My School Campaign has contributed to a surge in interest in integrated schooling in Northern Ireland. Harding Memorial is one of eight schools where parental ballots have been held in support of a move to formal integration, with the percentage of parents in favour of such a development,
ranging from 71% to 100%.
The Education Minister also recently approved integrated status for Seaview Primary School in Glenarm and Carrickfergus Central Primary School. Three more schools are awaiting a Ministerial decision on their proposal to move to integrated status namely; Glengormley High School, Bangor Central Nursery School and Brefne Nursery School in Belfast.
The total number of integrated schools in Northern Ireland now stands at 67 (as of September 2021).
Parents in Northern Ireland can express support for their child’s school to become officially integrated on the Integrate My School platform: www.integratemyschool.com
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