28 Sep

Independent Review of Education – panel announced.

Education Minister, Michelle McIlveen has announced the independent panel which will undertake the review of education.
The five panel members are:  Chairperson Dr Keir Bloomer, Vice-Chairperson Sir Gerry Loughran, Marie Lindsay, Robin McLaughlin and Isabel Nisbet.
Michelle McIlveen said: “I am very pleased to announce the appointment of the Independent Panel who will take forward this important review of our education system.
“The NI Executive is in agreement that the education system, whilst having areas of excellence, faces many significant challenges. A non-political, non-sectoral and wholly independent review is an essential starting point for longer term reform, modernisation and transformation.
“This review is a wide-ranging and challenging assignment. I am confident that the panel has the breadth of expertise and experience to set out a vision for what a high quality, innovative and inclusive education system looks like in Northern Ireland in the 21st century.
“I encourage everyone to support the panel and wish them every success in their task.”
The Integrated Education Fund has called for a full and independent review of the education system from the outset, and welcomes this announcement. We look forward to engaging with the panel and providing whatever assistance they may require.


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27 Sep

Integration – Through the Eyes of Young People, online now!

Our very own short film, Integration – Through the Eyes of Young People, is online now, on the Queens Film Theatre Player and YouTube. The film was released as part of Good Relations Week, and was funded by the Community Relations Council.

Current pupils and alumni featured in the film attended, alongside Baroness May Blood and broadcaster Gerry Kelly, who chaired a panel following the screening.

We would like to thank the QFT for hosting the event and Youth Voice NI for contributing to the debate.

The film can be accessed online at the QFT Player here.

It is also available on our YouTube channel.





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17 Sep

IEF at the Movies – premier at QFT, Tuesday 21st September

We’re thrilled to present Integrated Education – Through the Eyes of Young People this Tuesday 21st September as part of Good Relations Week. 

Funded by a grant secured by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) from the Community Relations Council Media Programme, Integrated Education – Through the Eyes of Young People explores integrated education through the lived experiences of past and current pupils in integrated schools.


Directed by leading independent filmmaker Michael McBroom and produced by Paul Collins (IEF), the film will be premiered at QFT and will be followed by a panel discussion on the nature of integrated education. The film and discussion will explore the nature of good relations through an integrated schooling system. The discussion will be chaired by broadcaster Gerry Kelly and will focus on the issues raised by the film.

A limited amount of tickets for the premier are now available from the QFT website here.

In addition the film will debut on our Facebook page at the same time.

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3 Sep

4 schools join the integrated family.

A new term means a fresh start for four newly integrated schools across Northern Ireland. 

Integrated schools in Northern Ireland will see their biggest increase in over a decade as Brefne Nursery School, Belfast, Carrickfergus Central Primary School, Harding Memorial Primary School, Belfast, and Seaview Primary School, Glenarm, all transform to Controlled Integrated Status at the start of the new school year. 

Recent surveys carried out by LucidTalk and the joint QUB/UU ARK project show continued public support for integrated education, with 71% of people in Northern Ireland believing that integrated education should be the norm, while 69% would want their children to attend a mixed-religion school.

Almost any school in Northern Ireland can begin the process of transforming to integrated status but no school transforms without majority support from parents, the first step in a process that culminates in approval from the Education Minister.

Schools are supported in their transformation journey by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), who also provide financial support to help schools explore the process and work with its local school community.  Integrated education continues to be the fastest growing form of education in Northern Ireland, with around 7.5% of all children now attending an integrated school.

Roisin Marshall, Chief Executive of NICIE said;

“Four schools joining the integrated family this September is fantastic news, the most at any one time in over a decade. Each one of these transformations is the result of months, sometimes years, of hard work and effort by dedicated parents, staff and governors. This commitment has paid off, with the four schools embracing the diverse religious and cultural community they serve, and securing a brighter future for generations of pupils to come.

This is what the integrated movement has been about since Lagan College opened 40 years ago this September – parent power bringing a very real change to their children’s education. We are proud to support these school communities through the process of transformation.”

Tina Merron, Chief Executive of the IEF added;

“We were absolutely delighted with the Minister’s decision to approve these four schools for integrated status and we look forward to supporting them on their integration journey. The IEF has been raising awareness of transformation through our ‘Integrate My School’ campaign and it is encouraging to see it being embraced so positively by parents and schools.  The IEF and NICIE are working with more schools than ever before who desire formal integrated status and who see the added value that quality inclusive education brings for their children.”

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17 Aug

IEF webinar as part of Féile an Phobail online now!

The IEF recently hosted a webinar on ‘A vision of how education should be delivered in the 21st century’ as part of the 2021 Féile an Phobail festival.

The webinar was expertly chaired by local Broadcaster, Jim Fitzpatrick and youth panellists were invited from the five main political parties to contribute to the conversation.

We would like to extend our thanks to the youth panellists who joined the conversation and who shared their views so eloquently. These were:

  • SDLP Youth: Chair, Karl W. Duncan
  • Sinn Fein Youth: Ógra Shinn Féin, Chair, Caoimhín McCann
  • Alliance Youth: Cllr Connie Egan
  • UUP Youth: Ben Sharkey


Our thanks also go to Ulster University researchers Dr Matt Milliken and Dr Stephen Roulston who started the event with their presentation of ideas for what our education system could look like in the 21st century and which provided the basis for a really interesting and engaging debate.  They highlighted the great work of current educationalists within our society while also highlighting what aspects of the education system are in need of a review.

While the panellists expressed a range of viewpoints, some key points of agreement could also be identified during the discussions, including:

  • We need reform of the entire system of education
  • What defines success should be redefined and broadened across all levels of the education system, requiring reform from nursery right through to Initial Teacher Training
  • We should move towards a single education system
  • Although it was acknowledged that there are challenges ahead, the panel expressed a sense of hope, ambition and optimism regarding the outcome of the upcoming Independent Review of Education

Comments from the general public during the webinar were generally positive regarding integrated education and strong support was expressed for the upcoming review of our education system.

You can watch the webinar again here: https://youtu.be/QJ9wc1xo_-I

The IEF is planning to host more events and webinars to help inform and encourage conversations regarding our education system and the upcoming Independent Review of Education.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us: jessica@ief.org.uk

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3 Aug

71% of people in Northern Ireland believe integrated education should be the norm.

A new survey shows that 71% of people in Northern Ireland believe an integrated education should be the norm
The LucidTalk NI-wide attitudinal poll also reveals that a further 73% of people here would support their child’s school becoming integrated.

Seventy-one percent of NI people questioned in a new survey by LucidTalk believe integrated education, which sees children of different faiths, backgrounds and cultures educated together, should be our main model of education, an increase of 5% on the last poll conducted in 2013.

The NI-wide survey, collated by Belfast-based independent polling company LucidTalk on behalf of the Integrated Education Fund, polled more than 2000 people from all areas of the community here.

The results come as the NI Executive prepares to launch an Independent Review of the NI Education system as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement of January 2020. This agreement described the NI education system in its current form as ‘unsustainable’ and pledged to examine the prospects of moving to a single system of education.

The findings of the survey reveal that a clear majority of the NI community, regardless of their political affiliation, are in favour of an integrated education system.

The attitudinal report found that 59% of DUP voters and 72% of Sinn Fein voters believe NI children should be educated together.

It also concluded that almost 79% of people here agree that all schools, regardless of management type, should aim to have a religious and cultural mix of pupils, teachers and governors.

There are currently 68 formally integrated schools and colleges, representing 7.5% of Northern Ireland’s educational settings and encompassing around 25,000 children.  But there is still no government plan for integrated education and its growth is still down to determined campaigners and pioneering parents who must either set up the school themselves or work to transform their school to integrated status.

The findings from the LucidTalk survey are published more than 23 years after a Good Friday agreement pledge promised “to facilitate and encourage integrated education” as an essential element in the process of reconciliation.

In a multiple choice question, Sixty-four percent of those surveyed attribute the slow growth in integrating NI pupils to NI political parties and NI politicians, with the influence of the churches also being ranked highly (64%) as a contributing factor.

The drive empowers parents to express their support for integrated education and encourage existing schools to explore formal integration.

In 2021 there have been four schools that have transformed to integrated status including the first ever Catholic primary school (Seaview Primary School in Glenarm). It joins Brefne Nursery in north Belfast, Carrickfergus Central Primary School and Harding Memorial Primary School in east Belfast in gaining recent Ministerial approval for integrated status. A further two more schools, Glengormley High and Bangor Central Nursery School are awaiting a Ministerial decision.

The results of such democratic ballots held in schools, coupled with the LucidTalk survey, are testament that the appetite for change in the NI education system is strong.
Speaking about the findings of the poll, Jill Caskey, Parental Engagement Campaign Manager, IEF said:

“The findings in this survey highlight the demand for integrated education in Northern Ireland and they should prompt our Executive to actively promote a fully integrated education system for the benefit of our entire society. It should also help inform the new Independent Review of the NI Education system in terms of public opinion on this crucial aspect of our society.

“Although the level of integrated education has continued to grow since the Good Friday Agreement, it is nowhere near the rate it needs to be in order to reflect the demand from parents for more integration.

“There is no government plan for developing more integrated schooling with growth solely dependent on parents, schools and campaigners.
“We are going into an era in NI needs an education system fit for the 21st Century which is fully inclusive. We need to see a dedicated governmental plan to accommodate the demands of our parents and children.”

A summary of the report can be accessed here.
Details of the main questions broken down by region can be accessed here.

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