Northern Ireland news

Parents at two rural primary schools in Co Tyrone vote in favour of integrated status

Parents at Sion Mills Primary School voted overwhelmingly in favour of moving to integrated status. Picture by Declan Roughan

PARENTS at two rural primary schools in Co Tyrone have voted overwhelmingly in favour of moving to integrated status.

Sion Mills PS and Gillygooley PS in Omagh both held parental ballots to begin the process.

At Sion Mills, 69 per cent of parents cast a vote with 98.7 per cent saying yes, while there was a 100 per cent turn-out of parents at Gillygooley PS with all voting in favour.

The next step will be compiling a development proposal, which will be submitted to the Department of Education with the education minister to make the final decision.

There are currently 68 integrated schools in Northern Ireland.

Oonagh McNelis, principal of Sion Mills PS, said: "Cross community education and inclusivity has been part of our ethos for almost 150 years.

"The natural next step for the school was to seek to formally integrate through the transformation process."

Jayne Baird, acting principal of Gillygooley PS, said: "We have a long tradition of providing a high standard of education to the rural community on the outskirts of Omagh, and we pride ourselves in encouraging our pupils from all communities to respect and learn from each other".

Tina Merron from the Integrated Education Fund said: "We welcome the positive response to the parental ballot and stand ready to provide support for the next steps in the journey.

"This positive news coming so soon after the success of the Integrated Education Act shows that parents are firmly behind the ideal of educating children together."

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Northern Ireland news