CCMS responds to passing of Integrated Education bill
A BODY representing Catholic maintained schools last night said it would "look forward to engaging with our partners in education on the practical out working" of the new Integrated Education Bill.
It comes after the Assembly passed legislation which places a statutory duty on the Department of Education to provide further support to the integrated schools sector.
The bill includes provision for setting of minimum targets for the numbers of pupils educated in such schools.
Just 7 per cent of pupils attend an integrated school and there are not enough places for the number of pupils who wish to attend.
The private members' Bill from Alliance Party MLA Kellie Armstrong passed on Wednesday, despite a warning from Education Minister Michelle McIlveen that it would have "far-reaching" consequences for the education system.
An attempt by the DUP to block the bill using a petition of concern failed when the UUP refused to back the Assembly veto mechanism. The DUP claimed the bill elevates the integrated sector above other school sectors.
Some schools in the controlled and maintained sectors are also opposed to the bill, claiming it would enshrine preferential treatment for the integrated sector.
While most Protestant pupils attend controlled schools in and most Catholic children attend maintained schools, both sectors insist they are not exclusive to single faiths and have increasingly diverse intakes.
Last week, bodies representing many schools and the four main churches called the Bill "flawed" and "not fit for purpose".
In an open letter signed by the chief executives of the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), the Controlled Schools Support Council (CSSC) and the Governing Bodies Association (GBA), which represents voluntary grammar schools, they said they would be "failing the children and young people of Northern Ireland if we did not share our significant concerns about the impact" of the bill.
It was also signed by the Catholic Schools' Trustee Service (CSTS) and the Transferor Representatives Council (TRC), which jointly represents the Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist churches in education.
In a statement last night, the CCMS said it and "the community of Catholic schools look forward to engaging with our partners in education on the practical out working of the bill."
The CSSC said it was "not going to comment on legislation that has now been passed", while TRC also said it would not be commenting "on legislation that has now been passed".