27/06/2003

Integrated education attracts increased support

A recent study on the attitude of people in Northern Ireland to integrated education has found that eight out of ten people consider integrated education is vital to peace and reconciliation in the province.

The survey commissioned by the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) and conducted by Millward Brown Ulster in their Omnibus Survey found that awareness, support and understanding for integrated education has dramatically increased in the past three years.

The findings of the survey have prompted the NICIE to call for the Government to develop a more “proactive” strategy to support the expected increase in demand for integrated education in the province.

NICIE Chief Executive Michael Wardlow said that he believed the research demonstrated clearly the overwhelming support for integrated education.

He said that one of the most significant findings was that the majority of people thought that integrated education had a major role to play in peace and reconciliation.

The new school year in September will see three further integrated schools in Northern Ireland, as one new school opens and two others change their status to that of integrated school.

Over 16,000 pupils now attend the province’s 50 schools that have integrated status, though many pupils are unable to attend an integrated school because of the increasing demand for places.

Last year, according to the NICIE, 900 pupils could not be accommodated at an integrated school due to a shortage of available places.

(SP)

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