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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Integrated Education in Northern Ireland: The story so far

Children from Central Integrated Primary School, Carrickfergus.

Children from Central Integrated Primary School, Carrickfergus.

The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) welcomes the publication of the latest research paper in the series ‘Transforming Education’ from the Ulster University’s UNESCO Centre, which are aimed at stimulating debate among educationalists, decision-makers and the wider public. 

This paper looks at ‘Integrated Education in Northern Ireland: The Story So Far.’

One of the paper’s authors Dr Matt Milliken, Independent Researcher said:

"The mixing of pupils in schools has been identified as one key means of addressing the development of a more cohesive society in the future. The Independent Review of Education noted that Integrated Education had made a positive contribution to society here and expressed support for its expansion. 

"However, the paper from Ulster University points out, that although a poll commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund in May 2023 recorded that 66% of people in NI want Protestant and Catholic children to be educated every day in the same classrooms, "this does not always translate into enrolments and points perhaps to a gap between attitudinal survey measurements and actual behaviour."  

In spite of the apparent demand, the growth in the number of Integrated schools has been slow, and the passing of the Integrated Education Act has done little to accelerate its development.  In line with the terms of the Act DE published their implementation Strategy in April 2023. 

This Strategy commits DE to undertake 15 actions including: assessing demand for Integrated Education, publishing data on that demand and providing updated information and guidance for parents.  The authors observe that "this strategy neither sets targets for the growth of Integrated Education nor does it specify how much money DE will spend. 

Commenting on the paper, Tina Merron, Chief Executive, Integrated Education Fund, said:

“This timely publication will help inform the implementation of the Independent Review of Education, the implementation of the Integrated Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 and the Westminster Northern Ireland Affairs Committee Integrated Education Inquiry as well as   help to inform education policy for the new Education Minister. 

"Demand for Integrated Education continues to grow with parents from 25 schools voting for their school to become Integrated since 2019 and opinion poll after opinion showing the majority of people in Northern Ireland supporting the growth of Integrated Education.”

The Transforming Education Briefing Paper 20 ‘Integrated Education in Northern Ireland: The Story So Far’ will be distributed to politicians and influencers and can be accessed online at



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