Then we had the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools voicing their opposition to this sector and calling for the end of its promotion. So what are they afraid of – what threat does integrated education pose that has the DUP and CCMS so scared?
I support the principle of parental choice, something that is being denied to those parents who wish to send their children to an integrated school. Poll after poll have shown that there is growing support for integrated education but that demand is not being met by the supply of places at integrated schools. This is being ignored by the Executive, who produced a shared future strategy last year that did not even contain the words integrated education.
Those who oppose the duty that the Education Department has to promote and facilitate the growth of integrated education have claimed that this sector is being artificially forced on schools. They need to realise that there is no compulsion for schools to become integrated, but schools who wish to transform to integrated status should be supported by the Department, a duty which they have under the 1989 Order.
There is room for all education sectors in Northern Ireland. It is disappointing that there is such suspicion and paranoia about one sector.
There has been so much progress on integrated education in its first forty years, yet there is still a long way to go. The Department must step up to the mark and honour its obligations.