A major new poll which found almost three-quarters of people here would support their child’s school becoming integrated shows how some politicians are out of step with the public, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said.
The Alliance Integrated Education spokesperson was speaking as the Lucid Talk poll revealed more than 73 per cent of people would support the move, while 71 per cent believe integrated education should be our main model of education.
“This survey shows the vast majority of parents here support an integrated education system in Northern Ireland, which backs up previous findings,” said Strangford MLA Ms Armstrong.
“It also shows some politicians who argue against integrated education, as happened during an Assembly debate on my Private Member’s Bill last month, are out of step with the public. While it ultimately passed to the next stage, the DUP voted against it and Sinn Féin incorrectly claimed integrated education eroded Irish culture.
“Whilst the independent review of education is welcome, it is expected to publish a report only a year after the panel is confirmed. While that may well include a recommendation for more integrated education, we will lose more valuable time, while also still relying on political will and courage to help deliver an integrated system for Northern Ireland. In the meantime, my Bill will legislate for a strategic plan to enable provision of school places to meet the parental choice which is clearly there.
“Integrated education here has stalled because there are not enough places for families to send their children to integrated schools. The most recent Good Relations report confirmed 21 per cent of children didn’t get their first preference of an integrated school. Parties have to stop speaking out of both sides of their mouths, remove the status quo which places division at the heart of education and instead help deliver a system which celebrates who and what we are, no matter our culture, religion, socio-economic background and abilities.”