Integrated education motion
‘That this Assembly calls on the Minister of Education to acknowledge the expressed wish of parents to see their children educated in an integrated setting; to honour his Department’s obligation to encourage and facilitate integrated education where demand exists; to make integration of controlled and maintained schools a specific objective of area planning; and to work, in particular with the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund, to ease the process of the transformation of existing schools to integrated status.’
Trevor Lunn MLA said: “The demand is there for integrated education, with many integrated schools being some of the most oversubscribed each year. However, the Department of Education is not allowing successful integrated schools to expand to meet this demand.
“If we are to break down the barriers in our society, we should be looking to begin with our children and our education system. With the single identity nature of our schools, it means that too many children are not knowingly come into contact with those from a different tradition. In a recent poll, 69% of people responded that integrated schools would provide the best basis for children to grow up in an increasingly diverse society. It is clear that this sector, despite its small size has a lot of support right across Northern Ireland, and many would like to see it grow.
“I believe that there are a lot of schools who would be interested in transforming to integrated status if the Department was more encouraging in its attitude to integrated schools.
“In 1998, the people of Northern Ireland were promised ‘initiatives to facilitate and encourage integrated education’ by all of the signatories of the Belfast Agreement. It is clear that this obligation is not being met by the way the Department of Education is currently operating.
“The Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has given an indication of her dissatisfaction at the pace of progress towards a shared future that the Good Friday Agreement promised. Surely one of the starting points of that process would be the bringing together of our children at an early age.”