Minister declines four integrated school proposals

Education Minister Angela Smith has turned down development proposals for four integrated schools across the province.

The proposals were for Clogher Valley, Moira/Hillsborough, Saintfield/Carryduff and funding for an existing independent primary school in Ballycastle.

The Minister said that she realised this would be disappointing news for the parents' groups involved, however it was important to provide clarity at this point when parents are choosing schools for their children in September.

The Minister said that the new schools have been proposed for areas which already have surplus capacity and concerns have been raised about the impact this would have on existing provision.

She said: "Government is committed to integrated education, but we also have a responsibility to manage the schools estate in the light of falling enrolments.

"As the Secretary of State said recently, our existing schools system with its numerous sectors comes at a high price. We need to be more strategic and co-ordinated in our approach, examining new models of schooling, involving sharing of facilities and achieving the best use of resources available.

"The education sector faces a real challenge in addressing parental choice for integrated schools against the impact of falling rolls. I believe that there are opportunities for cross-sector co-operation and would welcome input from the integrated sector to the forthcoming independent review of education on how this could be delivered."

The Minister added that these issues need to be examined carefully and fully in the context of the Government's policy 'A Shared Future' and ensuring that schools are viable.

The Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Intergated Education, Michael Wardlow, said that the decision meant that the schoolchildren were being "forced into segragated education against their wishes."

Integated schools in Northern Ireland have been held as a way to break down sectarian barriers. The province's first integrated school was opened in Belfast in 1981.

There are currently 58 integrated schools, which enrole almost 18,000 pupils.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

03 December 2020
Additional £3.25m For Arts And Creative Sectors
An additional £3.25 million has been secured for individuals who work across the arts and wider creative economy, Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has announced. At a meeting with the sector the Minister outlined a further round of the Individuals Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) will open for applications on December 17.
25 November 2020
Up To Three Households Allowed To Mix Over Christmas
Up to three households could be allowed to mix over the Christmas period, under a set of temporary arrangements to be agreed by the Executive. First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill have signalled temporary arrangements that will be put in place between 23 and 27 December.
02 March 2018
Schools Closures Across NI
The Department of Education have published a list of all schools across that have confirmed they will be closed today, Friday 2nd March, 2018 due to the adverse weather conditions.
22 January 2013
Heavy Snow Closes Over 80 Schools
Over 80 schools across Northern Ireland have been closed as the heavy snow continues to cause disruption on Tuesday morning. The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning, as the snow is continuing to affect many roads. Areas which have been majorly disrupted include Lisburn, Castlereagh and Carryduff.
04 September 2006
Integrated schools to open despite funding block
Two integrated schools are opening their doors to children to pupils for the first time after not receiving funding from the Department of Education.