14/01/2003

Three schools move to integrated status

The NIO has given its approval to the establishment of three new integrated schools in Glengormley, Antrim and Randalstown.

Glengormley Primary School and Springfarm Primary School in Antrim are to move to Controlled Integrated status and a new Grant Maintained Integrated School is to be established to serve the Randalstown area.

The minister responsible for education, Jane Kennedy, said: “Today’s announcement is further evidence of the growing support for the development of the integrated sector. I want to pay tribute to the efforts of the members of the schools’ Steering Groups and to the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education, in working so hard to promote these facilities for parents who wish their children to be educated together, regardless of religion and background.”

The new school in Randalstown, which will be known as ‘Maine Integrated Primary School’, will operate as a co-educational school for 176-205 pupils and will be opening in September 2003, with an expected initial enrolment of 42 pupils. The approval is subject to the school meeting the required intake in September 2003 and location on a suitable site.

Springfarm Primary School is a controlled school situated at Durnish Road, Antrim. The proposal to transform to integrated status was published after a ballot of parents the majority of whom voted in favour of the proposal. Its present enrolment is 146 pupils and it is hoped that integrated status will enable it to improve its enrolments.

Glengormley Primary School is also a controlled school where the majority of parents have voted for integrated status. Its current enrolment is 176 pupils.

Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats Northern Ireland spokesperson Lembit Opik has criticised the UUP over their Commons motion yesterday on the 'Future of Education of Northern Ireland'.

Mr Opik voiced his surprise that the UUP motion contained no mention of integrated education.

He added: "Integrated education is one of the most significant social developments in Northern Ireland in the last 20 years. Educating our children together helps create an awareness of social backgrounds and cultures that are different from our own. By bringing up children together at a young age, we can minimise the fear and lack of comprehension of others that may be perpetuated as they grow older.

"By choosing an integrated school, parents and pupils are contributing to the peace and reconciliation process in Northern Ireland."

The Liberal Democrats have tabled an amendment to incorporate integrated education into the motion which will be debated later today.

(GMcG)

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