Government must prioritise integrated, not shared schools to continue success of past 25 years

Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has called on government to prioritise integrated schools as opposed to shared schooling, to help build on the success that integrated education has had over the past 25 years. His comments come on the day that Lagan College, the first integrated school to open in Northern Ireland, celebrated its 25th birthday. Today, over 17,000 pupils are educated in almost 60 integrated schools situated throughout Northern Ireland.

The South Antrim MLA stated: “The government must prove that it is serious about providing the best possible start in life for local young people, by providing enough funding to continue the good work that Lagan College started 25 years ago. They must prioritise integrated as opposed to shared schooling, as shared schools endorse division with education.

“The vision and courage of those who established Lagan College 25 years ago is widely recognized. Many young people have them to thank for the provision of a balanced and all-encompassing education.

“The good work carried out by staff at Lagan College has helped cement equality and good community relations for a generation of our young people in the locality.

“Lagan College has an excellent academic record and it has also provided young people in the area with the best possible start in life – it instilled in them respect for everyone.

“There are many that accept on economic grounds that schools must share facilities, we believe that this option is second best. The key priority must be to provide parents who want integrated education places with the schools to fulfill this high demand.

“Where there is rationalization, preference should be given to genuine transformations to integrated education, rather than low-level sharing of facilities.

“The best way to end sectarianism and segregation in Northern Ireland is to provide more integrated education places. Having more integrated schools not only stops sectarianism, it also makes financial sense. Segregation costs the Northern Ireland taxpayer £1 billion per year. Providing one integrated primary school in a town, instead of the two segregated schools currently provided to pander to those who want our society to remain divided, will ensure that we can spend more money on providing extra hospitals and better public transport.”


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