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Background Material

Northern Ireland

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.

It is only consequent that integrated education accepted the challenge of "newcomers" meaning refugees in integrated schools:

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.

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:

For more research material please go to:

Shorter articles for download:

Videos on Youtube

In Peace Apart – Teaching Divided Histories

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.

Please note:

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Forum Eltern und Schule
Huckarder Str. 12
44147 Dortmund

Contact person:
Sandra Lorscheider

+49 231 148011

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Our Partners in
Northern Ireland

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