Integrated AlumNI: Peter Weir must prioritise delivering on Deal's promise of independent review into educational provision

AlumNI singles out Deal commitment to launching an independent review into a single education system for Northern Ireland

Tuesday 14 January 2020

The latest three year episode of Stormont stalemate, is rooted in Northern Ireland’s current system of educational provision. Stormont mirrors our schools. Segregated schooling propagates divided leadership. Northern Ireland maintains an education system that serves to separate our children; around 90% of pupils in Northern Ireland are educated in schools that identify with a single tradition or denomination. We have a system which is both costly and divisive.

The proposal for an educational review rightly seeks to pursue “greater efficiency in delivery costs, raising standards and access to the curriculum for all pupils”.

This proposal goes some way to meeting the recommendations in the Integrated Education Fund’s 2018 ‘Alternative Manifesto’: “Planning for Northern Ireland’s education and the schools estate must reflect community needs and the common aspiration for a peaceful, diverse and united community. An NI Executive should demonstrate strong leadership and establish a single, streamlined, authority for education planning and administration.”

Furthering the provision of integrated education goes hand in hand with achieving these goals. Our education system should properly prepare the young people of Northern Ireland for the next stage in their lives.

The inefficiency and added cost arising from segregation in our current educational provision has been well documented.

Furthering the provision of integrated education, in line with the stated desire of parents across the country, is vital to producing leaders who are willing and able to work together.

Beyond that, integrated schools can and should act as a roadmap to more effective, efficient and equal educational provision across Northern Ireland.

Parents right across Northern Ireland agree. A poll commissioned for the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), found that 67% of parents in Northern Ireland would support a move by their school to become integrated. Meanwhile, over 82% of respondents supported the proposal for an independent review into how education is planned and delivered in Northern Ireland. *(LucidTalk, “Northern Ireland Attitudinal Poll”, 2018). *

AlumNI also welcomes the commitment to an *“enhanced strategic focus and supporting actions on educating our children and young people together in the classroom, in order to build a shared and integrated society.” *

Parents have had their say on what that strategic focus should produce. Only an increase in the provision of integrated schools, as opposed to the alternatives to this model, will do.

Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Integrated AlumNI, Hilary Copeland, said:

“The Integrated AlumNI welcome and support the commitment laid out in New Decade, New Approach Deal, ‘to help build a shared and integrated society, the Executive will support educating children and young people of different backgrounds together in the classroom.’

“We urge the new Executive to act upon the clear and consistent desire of parents in Northern Ireland, to ensure that every child is offered the life-changing benefits that an integrated education provides.

“We call for the extension of ‘Section 75’ non-discrimination provisions of the Northern Ireland Act (1998) to cover all schools; fair employment legislation to cover the recruitment of teachers; equality, inclusivity and integration to be considered in the planning of new housing developments, and that the Department for Communities and the Department of Education establish a collaborative, strategic approach to mixed housing and integrated education.

“We look forward to meeting with and working to support the newly formed Executive and MLAs in the furtherance of peace building in our post-conflict society.”

Ends

Schoolbagsd
Seven members of the Integrated AlumNI at Stormont, staging an event to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. 100 schoolbags were laid out on the grounds of Parliament Buildings, 93 of the same colour, while 7 were different, illustrating the 7% of schools in Northern Ireland that hold integrated status.

Note for Editors:
Contact: Integrated AlumNI, hello@integratedalumni.org

The Integrated AlumNI are a network of past students and ambassadors of integrated education in Northern Ireland. We campaign and lobby for the further provision of integrated education in Northern Ireland and we have networks established in various locations in the UK, Ireland and overseas. As a registered charity (NIC106805) we support the work of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).