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Steven Agnew MLA warns guidance for schools seeking integrated status does not go far enough

Wednesday December 6 2017

Green Party Leader Steven Agnew has warned that new operational transformational guidance from the Department of Education for schools seeking to change to integrated status does not go far enough.

So far, 25 schools across Northern Ireland have undergone transformation – the legal process by which a school becomes an integrated school.

“It is good to see that despite the political impasse the Department of Education is pressing ahead and working to make this process more streamlined,” Mr Agnew said.

“But the Department needs to go much further to make sure that schools can be transformed to integrated status where there is a will among parents.

“The importance of this process for creating the kind of Northern Ireland we all want to live in cannot be understated.”

A poll in 2013 showed that two-thirds of people in Northern Ireland wanted politicians to prioritise sorting out the divided education system.

The new guidance says that the original stimulus to consider transformation can come from any group in the school, including parents, staff or governors. It advises that when the idea of transformation emerges within the school community, it is best practice for the senior management team and Board of Governors to take the lead in exploring the practicalities of transformation.

However, Mr Agnew said this is not enough and the power to transform must lie with parents rather than with schools that may have vested interests in the status quo.

“I would like to see the Department set up an initiative along the lines of the Integrate My School campaign, a tool run by the Integrated Education Fund which allows parents to register their interest online. Such an initiative should allow the process of transformation to automatically be explored if enough parents express an interest,” the Green Party leader said.

ENDS

Notes to editors

Poll results available online at https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/public-mood-in-northern-ireland-is-for-an-end-to-segregation-in-schools-29372424.html

Linda Stewart

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07594 391264