9 Jul

Still disappointed but forever hopeful

Still disappointed but forever hopeful

With the announcement that integrated education groups in Northern Ireland are in the running for the Nobel Peace Prize, and with British MPs, Irish TDs and professors in the US and Canada among those in support of the nomination, it’s evident that there is confidence in the power of education and in support of peace building and reconciliation for Northern Ireland.

Tina Merron, chief executive of the IEF, said: “This is a great honour, and a testament to all the pioneers who have been committed to opening and developing integrated schools in the face of social challenges and political inertia.”

For the past however many years, integrated schools have been perceived purely as a second option to an educational system in which the majority of children throughout the breadth of Northern Ireland have continued to segregate themselves by attending religiously divided schools. But now is the time to put the wellbeing and education of our children in the forefront.


8 Jul

James Nesbitt interview

James Nesbitt interviewAt Ulster University, it is graduation time. On the steps which lead up to the main entrance of the university’s Coleraine campus, new graduates pose for photographs in their robes.

Earlier, they received their degree certificates from the university’s chancellor, the actor James Nesbitt. He has spent the day celebrating their achievements and talking to others who are hoping to follow in their footsteps. A group of 16- and 17-year-olds in foster care are visiting; each of them could be the first person in their families to go to university.

“There is something very different about the generation we have now,” says Nesbitt. “When I was talking to their group leaders, they were saying it never comes up in conversation – the Protestant/Catholic thing. I think we really are at an important moment where we can actually begin to escape all that.”


5 Jul

‘We need an agency to promote social integration’, says Father Martin Magill

‘We need an agency to promote social integration’, says Father Martin MagillNorthern Ireland needs a body lobbying for social integration, learning from the success of the Integrated Education Fund in its work promoting integrated schools, says Father Martin Magill. Without an agency pushing the integrated housing agenda, it will be difficult to make sufficient progress, he says. Martin was interviewed in the latest Forward Together podcast.

“I grew up living in a neighbourhood where my next door neighbour was Presbyterian; further on down the road Church of Ireland; further down the road, Methodist,” recalls Martin. “We were various Christian denominations. My home area is people living side by side. For me, that’s one of the most important things. I’m aware, for example, of the Integrated Education Fund and we hear a lot of that. I hear nothing to the same degree on encouraging integrated housing. And I really would like to see the likes of integrated

neighbourhoods.” https://sluggerotoole.com/2019/07/05/we-need-an-agency-to-promote-social-integration-says-father-martin-magill/#disqus_thread

28 Jun

Social integration begins with integrated education and integrated housing

Social integration begins with integrated education and integrated housingFor Northern Ireland to become more integrated, there has to be a greater focus on integrated schools and integrated housing, argues the chief executive of the Integrated Education Fund, Tina Merron. She was interviewed for the latest Forward Together podcast.

“I think the majority of people in Northern Ireland want a shared future and a united community,” says Tina. “We need to give civil society more of a say. We need to encourage people to speak up and especially young people. And then when we do get them to speak up, we have to listen to them.

“Integrated education has been run for the last 35 years as a kind of model for wider society and it’s a model that empowers parents, communities and young people. It encourages people to speak up and encourages children to look at what unites us, as opposed to what divides us. Integrated schools are safe spaces to have these discussions – children from different traditions sit side-by-side, day-by-day, learning about each other, from each other. This experience removes any fear of other traditions, different cultures and enables them to express their identity. And this has a ripple effect.”


26 Jun

Corran Primary begins move to new £3m school

Corran Primary begins move to new £3m schoolCorran Integrated Primary School has received the keys to a new £3m building ahead of opening at Seacourt Road in September.

For the first time, the new academic year will begin in purpose-built accommodation after 28 years in temporary premises.

The school opened its doors to pupils in 1991, operating from premises at Stylux Industrial Estate before moving to Blackcave North in 1992.

Principal Denise Macfarlane said: “The pupils, parents, staff and governors have waited very patiently for the new school to be completed and now, our dreams of a permanent new building have finally become a reality.”


14 Jun

Parents back bid to create north’s first integrated nursery school

Parents back bid to create north's first integrated nursery schoolParents have given overwhelming support to a plan to create the north’s first official integrated nursery school.

Bangor Central Nursery School will now seek to transform from controlled to integrated status.

There are 95 nursery schools in the north, all of which are either state controlled or Catholic maintained.

While there are hundreds of other non-denominational pre-school groups, Bangor NS would be the first to join the integrated sector.

Principal Millie Williams balloted parents after governors found interest in integration among the school community.

The vote showed 97 per cent support.


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