Integrated Education brings educational, societal and economic benefit.
Independent research indicates that children who attend Integrated schools are more likely to have positive social attitudes to, and have more friendships with, pupils with a different background to their own.
Integrated schools are more likely to reflect the makeup of society at large, thus helping to prepare children for life after school where many are likely to work and socialise in a mixed environment whether in third level education or employment.
The development of Integrated schools has demonstrated that people from all religious, cultural and social backgrounds can work, learn and play together successfully. It has contributed to the growing acceptance that learning together can enhance an educational experience, adding value to a child’s education.
This is not just evidenced by Integrated schools. Schools of all types have sought to engage in cross community projects and shared education because of the very benefits they believe it can bring.
Maintaining separate school systems based on religious or cultural background comes at a high price for government and many local communities. Having too many schools with too few pupils can make ineffective and inefficient use of resources and put these limited resources under further budgetary pressure. More children attending one school which respects and celebrates all traditions will help alleviate some of these pressures.
Moreover, a school system based more on integration would eventually reduce the need for external charitable funding as integration would be mainstreamed, and cross community work would no longer be an ‘add on’; it would be an integral part of every school day.