Northern Ireland

Two thirds of people in Northern Ireland support integrated education becoming ‘main model’ says new poll

The survey was commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund

Pupils at Phoenix Integrated Primary School celebrate recent poll findings that 67% of people in Northern Ireland agree that Integrated Education should be the norm (Photograph by Declan Roughan / Press Eye)
Pupils at Phoenix Integrated Primary School celebrate recent poll findings that 67% of people in Northern Ireland agree that integrated education should be the norm. PICTURE: DECLAN ROUGHAN/PRESS EYE

Two thirds of people in Northern Ireland believe integrated education should be the “main model” for the education system, according to a new poll.

The survey, commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund, found that almost two thirds (63%) of parents supported their children’s school becoming integrated, while over 60% want the Department for Education to “pro-actively support the amalgamation of schools”.

Currently only 7% of schools in the north are integrated, with most children from Catholic and Protest backgrounds educated separately.

More than 2,300 responses were collated for the poll, carried out by independent polling company LucidTalk, which found 70% of people want “all schools, regardless of type or aim to have a religious and cultural mix of pupils, teachers and governors”.

Only 34% of parents polled thought that it was important to them to have “a school which reflects a particular single faith or cultural background”, with 100% instead opting for good educational standards, 91% for distance, 94% for good, well-maintained facilities.

Over two thirds (72%) of parents surveyed would opt for “a school which is openly welcoming of all sections of the community and to all faiths”, with only 10% disagreeing.



Paul Caskey from the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) said: “In the past five years more parents than ever before have expressed their support for integrated education.

“This is evidenced by 27 successful parental ballots taking place where a clear majority of parents have voted for their school to transform to integrated status.

“The result of this poll highlights the high level of support for more integrated education from the people of Northern Ireland.

“Despite these findings, many areas remain with limited or no integrated options available to children or parents.

“The IEF and its supporters will continue to support all efforts to increase integrated education provision in response to the growing demand.”

Northern Ireland Humanists co-ordinator, Boyd Sleator, said: “There was a clear pledge ‘to facilitate and encourage integrated education’ in the Good Friday Agreement.

“That was over 25 years ago, and yet we still see a tiny fraction of the schooling system as integrated.

“This poll shows again what we already know, parents want integration. The question is, when will they get it?”