Integrated Education Bill passed in Northern assembly

A Law to encourage the Northern Ireland authorities to promote integrated education for protestant and catholic school pupils has been passed in the Northern assembly.

The law was proposed by the Alliance Party and supported by the non-unionist parties. The Ulster Unionist Party opposed the bill but refused to back the ‘petition of concern’ mechanism which would have allowed unionists to veto the law. 

The measure asks that minimum targets be set for integrated schools within the next 10 years and that the Department of Education will assess demand for integrated education.

At the moment, only 7 per cent of students go to integrated schools although in many areas the traditional catholic and protestant schools do accommodate other traditions.

When considering new schools surveys of parents should be carried out and the targeted catchment areas should be mixed.

The bill also requires that those planning education provision take into account the growing numbers of students not falling into the catholic/protestant categories.

There should be funding for new integrated schools and also funding for the process of moving present schools into the integrated sector.

Finally, the bill requires a review of current education legislation.