IEF welcomes new Ulster University Report on shared and integrated education.

The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) has welcomed the publication of the latest briefing paper from the Ulster University UNESCO Centre that looks at Shared Education and Integrated Education in the Northern Ireland education system.

Dr Matthew Milliken School of Education, UNESCO Centre Ulster University says;

“Around 93% of children in Northern Ireland attend schools that are largely segregated along religious/ethnic lines. It has been calculated that as much as £1bn may have been spent over the last decade on educational initiatives that seek to address the implications of this segregation

Shared and Integrated Education represents markedly different responses to this state of affairs.  Integration has an ideal at its heart; it is organic and parent-led and Integrated Schools form combined communities not reliant on another school to enable reconciliation.  On the other-hand Shared Education is a pragmatic response to slow growth of integrated schooling as developed largely by academics. It is grounded in empirical research and has been endorsed by those at the head of the consociational Executive. Schools involved in Shared Education are reliant on another school to facilitate reconciliation aims.

Integrated and Shared Education are fundamentally different, but they are not necessarily mutually incompatible.  Numerous Shared Education programmes feature schools that are Integrated.  Department of Education have also suggested that Shared Education may provide a stepping-stone on the path to establishing a fully integrated school.”

Commenting on the paper, IEF Chief Executive, Tina Merron said;

“This study is an important examination of the different approaches of shared and integrated education. The IEF supports any initiative that helps bring young people and schools come together through increased contact, and with Integrated Education young people are together in the same classroom every day. There is growing evidence and acceptance that children from different backgrounds learning together enhances a child’s educational experience, therefore the divided nature of our education system needs to be changed so that it pro-actively encourages and facilitates greater integration, not separation, of our young people and our schools.”

The report can be accessed here.