Dickson calls for integration to be at the heart of education reform

Alliance East Antrim MLA, Stewart Dickson, has said that integration must be at the heart of any education reform. He was speaking during a debate on area planning in education.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Education has been a political football for too long and we absolutely must begin to make progress. From top to bottom, reform is needed, from the 70,000 empty desks, to selection and the uncertainty hanging over smaller schools, we must work to improve our education system for the good of our children.

“We must move forward to a modern education system with integration education at its heart. Alliance believes that educating people from across the community in the same school improves our society, and is good for our economy and our children’s education. Shared education is part of a spectrum of choices relating to improving integration in the education system. However, it should not be pursued to the detriment of integrated education.

“There is clearly a demand for shared and integrated education – the recent Belfast Telegraph poll and the application rates for integrated schools demonstrate that. Despite the demand, there is little political support for integration in schools. And even when the DUP and Sinn Fein agree to identify ten new shared campuses, they are unable to achieve much progress in turning this target into a reality.

“We are currently in the position where we could be placing bricks and mortar for new schools – literally building segregation into our education system – for another generation. That is why, following the recent Drumragh ruling and the scrapping of ESA, there is a need for a re-think on how we implement the planning process to ensure that decisions are taken now to embed integration in the system for the foreseeable future.”


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