Review of integrated education gets underway

Date published: 27 January 2016

A review of integrated education setting out how the sector can be developed for the future will be completed by June 2016.

The Education Minister John O’Dowd has appointed NICIE President Colm Cavanagh and Professor Margaret Topping from Queen’s University to undertake the review.

Commenting on the review, Minister O’Dowd said:

“The growth of the sector has slowed in the last decade and this review is an opportunity to examine how to support the effective planning, growth and development of integrated education in the twenty-first century. It will also look at how we develop a more integrated education system in its widest sense, which will bring together increasing numbers of Protestant and Catholic pupils within all of our schools.

 “I am delighted to confirm that Colm Cavanagh and Margaret Topping will undertake the review. Their experience will be hugely beneficial in what is undoubtedly a substantial piece of work. Critically, the Review will consider how the potential capital investment from the Stormont House Agreement for shared and integrated education can be best used to increase the numbers of Catholic and Protestant pupils being educated together."

Concluding, Minister O’Dowd said:

“The panel will of course engage with the integrated schools sector as part of the process. I have asked for the review to be completed by June this year.”

The Review Team has been asked to undertake a strategic assessment across all aspects of current planning and development of integrated education and produce proposals and recommendations to support the effective planning, growth and development of a more integrated education system in the form of a report incorporating its analysis, findings and recommendations.

Notes to editors: 

  1. There are currently 63 grant-maintained or controlled integrated schools. Overall growth of the number of schools with an integrated management type has slowed since 2000 and in particular during the last decade.The total number of pupils in grant-maintained and controlled integrated schools increased from 14,140 in 2000/1 to 17,558 in 2005/6 but only to 21,956 by 2014/15.
  2. In recent years, there has also been increasing interest in what have been termed ‘naturally integrated’ or ‘super mixed’ schools, where Protestant and Catholic pupils are educated together outside controlled or grant maintained integrated schools. 
  3. Colm Cavanagh is NICIE President.  He is a qualified solicitor and is currently the Managing Director of Foyle Waterfront, Derry. He has previously worked in the areas of community and economic development, as well as voluntarily for the United Nations in Tanzania, East Africa. He has been a trust representative on the NICIE Board since 2004 and has been involved in the promotion of integrated education since the 1970s. He is co-chair of the Foyle Trust for Integrated Education and is currently governor of Oakgrove Integrated College and Roe Valley Integrated Primary School, Limavady.
  4. Professor Margaret Topping is Dean of the Graduate School at The Queen’s University of Belfast and is closely involved in a range of research and good practice networks on postgraduate education and research.  She is Professor of French Literary and Visual Cultures at Queen’s and has previously taught at Oxford University, the University of Wales Bangor, and Cardiff University.
  5. Terms of Reference for the Review can be accessed on the Department’s website.
  6. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.

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