Two More Schools on the Path to Integration.

Parents at two rural schools, have voted overwhelmingly in favour of beginning the process of Transformation to Integrated status. Sion Mills Primary School and Gillygooly Primary School both held the parental ballots necessary to begin the Transformation procedure.

All parents were eligible to vote in the ballot, with 69% of Sion Mills PS parents casting a vote.  98.7% voted yes to Integrated status for the school, providing a resounding endorsement for their future plans.

In Gillygooley PS there was 100% turn out and 100% voted in favour of moving to the next stage of the transformation process.

A third school, St. Mary’s on Rathlin Island, voted to reject the move towards Integration.

Oonagh McNelis, Principal of Sion Mills PS said:

“Sion Mills Primary School has had a long history of serving all parts of the community and surrounding area since the Herdman family set up a school in the village in 1879. Cross community education and inclusivity has been part of our ethos for almost 150 years. The natural next step for the school was to seek to formally integrate through the Transformation process.”

“In everything we do as a school, we put the children and families first. We’d like to thank the parents for pointing the way forward. We know through experience that learning together in an inclusive environment, even from this young age, is what is best for all children.”


Janye Baird, acting Principal of Gillygooley PS said

“Gillygooley Primary school are delighted to have unanimous support from all parents for a move to Integrated Status. We have a long tradition of providing a high standard of education to the rural community on the outskirts of Omagh, and we pride ourselves in encouraging our pupils from all communities to respect and learn from each other.

Everything we do within our school community has the overarching ethos of “Loving to Learn, Learning to Love” and integrated status is an exciting next step for Gillygooley Primary School. ”

Tina Merron, Chief Executive of the Integrated Education Fund said:

“We welcome the positive response to the parental ballot and stand ready to provide support for the next steps in the journey. This positive news coming so soon after the success of the Integrated Education Act shows that parents are firmly behind the ideal of educating children together.”

Roisin Marshall, Chief Executive Officer of NICIE, said:

“The ballot result is a validation of all the hard work by the school community at Sion Mills PS. With such a resounding endorsement from parents, we look forward to supporting the school to develop their proposal further as they build on their long standing tradition of educating children together.”

The ballots were carried out by Civica Election Services, and every adult registered as a parent or guardian was eligible to vote in confidence on the school’s future.

The next step will be compiling a development proposal, which will be submitted to the Department of Education. The Minister for Education will then make the final decision.

Almost every school in the country can apply to Transform to Integrated Status and the parental ballot is a major step in this journey. The IEF and NICIE provide support and advice for parents, staff and Governors considering taking the first steps to Integrated education.