Background material on this page contains information and links concerned with the educational systems in Northern Ireland. Its main goal is to supply participants of our courses in Northern Ireland with information for their preparation and for further work on the subject.
Integrated Schools in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland still ca. 95 % of the pupils go separately to Catholic or Protestant schools according to their denomination. In almost all areas of social life the split between the two parts of the population is still very deep. Integrated schools try to close this gap by welcoming pupils from both denominations.
The first integrated school was founded in 1981. The goal of integrated education has been since then to serve as an alternative. There are criterias in every integrated school to ensure an approximately equal number of Catholic and Protestant children, as well as children from other religious and cultural backgrounds. Nevertheless integrated schools are essentially Christian in character and welcome all faiths and none.
There is another split concerning different school types in secondary education. Unlike in England, Scotland and Wales in Northern Ireland there is still the distinction between secondary and grammar school. In the sixth year of primary school pupils have to pass a test in order to continue in grammar school. If they don't pass they have to continue their education in secondary school.
Our partner in Northern Ireland is NICIE, Northern Ireland Council of Integrated Education. NICIE was formed as a charitable organisation to co-ordinate efforts to develop integrated education and to support parent groups through the process of opening new schools.
A profound overview on the education system in Northern Ireland is furnished by EURYDICE:
Our Partner NICIE
An important source of background information is NICIE's website:
The website presents a vast variety of activities NICIE has undertaken in the last 30 years.
- A little bit of history of integrated education and of NICIE
- NICIE's support of integrated schools
- Especial ABC: Promoting Anti-Bias Approach to Education
- Partnership building for: Principals, Staff, Governors and Parents
- Transformation development in schools
It is only consequent that integrated education accepted the challenge of "newcomers" meaning refugees in integrated schools:
- Paula McIlwaine (2016): Communities in Dialogue: A Primary School Good Practice Guide for Newcomer Integration & Support (PDF, 17 pages)
IEF – The Integrated Education Fund
Policy and Public go in different directions on Integrated Education
In 2013 IEF published a report based on a study by UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster. On the base of more than a decade of studies and research and of polls the report shows an overwhelming public support of integrated education whereas politics aim at separate development in education.
Ulf Hansson, Una O’Connor Bones, John McCord:
Integrated Education: a review of policy and research evidence 1999-2012
Children and Youth Programme, UNESCO Centre, University of Ulster, January 2013. Report commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund.
Research on Integrated Education
In their efforts integrated schools in Northern Ireland have been supported by scientists not only from Northern Ireland but also from countries such as Cyprus, Israel, Boznia-Herzogowina and Canada, who organised themselves in the Integrated Peace Education Network. There are two studies interesting in this context:
McGlynn, Claire, Bekerman, Zvi and Zembylas, Michalinos (Ed):
Integrated Education in Conflicted Societies
Palgrave Macmillan US, 2013
McGlynn, Claire, Bekerman, Zvi Zembylas, Michalinos and Tony Gallagher (Ed):
Peace Education in Conflict and Post-Conflict Societies
Palgrave Macmillan US, 2009:
For more research material please go to:
Shorter articles for download:
McGlynn, Claire, Bekerman, Zvi Zembylas, Michalinos and Tony Gallagher:
Integrated Education in Conflicted Societies: Is There a Need for New Theoretical Language?
European Educational Research Journal / Sage Journals, 2013
Provided as PDF by journals.sagepub.com
- McGlynn, Claire, Bekerman, Zvi Zembylas, Michalinos:
Working toward the De-essentialization of Identity Categories in Conflict and Postconflict Societies: Israel, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland
Comparative Education Review, 2009
Provided as PDF by peach.haifa.ac.il
Videos on Youtube
In Peace Apart – Teaching Divided Histories
- For a review of the short film: The Guardian: Across the divide in Northern Ireland
Inside Divided Belfast
»Belfast: Us and Them (2009) – Kilometres of graffiti-daubed concrete walls snake through Belfast. They divide Catholic neighbourhoods from Protestant. But do these Peace Walls keep the hatred and suspicion locked outside or inside?«
Bridging the gap: Visiting integrated schools in Northern Ireland
Celebrating 25 years of supporting integrated education in Northern Ireland
The Ireland Funds Flagship Grants: Integrated Education Fund in Northern Ireland
Transforming into integrated school
There are more videos on YouTube which have been produced by integrated schools and IEF. Please check by typing "Integrated Education in Northern Ireland" into the search mask of YouTube.
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