The NI-wide survey, collated by Belfast-based independent polling company LucidTalk on behalf of the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), polled more than 2000 people from all areas of the community here, including residents in Mid and East Antrim. The findings come as the NI Executive prepares to launch an Independent Review of the NI Education system as part of the New Decade, New Approach agreement reached in January 2020. This agreement described the NI education system in its current form as ‘unsustainable’ and pledged to examine the prospects of moving to a single system of education. The findings of the survey also reveal that a clear majority of the NI community, regardless of their political affiliation, are in favour of an integrated education system. The attitudinal report found that 59% of DUP voters and 72% of Sinn Fein voters believe NI children should be educated together. It also concluded that 74% of people in the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council area agree that all schools, regardless of management type, should aim to have a religious and cultural mix of its pupils, teachers and governors. Although a clear majority of the area’s voters want to move in the direction of an integrated education system, new integrated schools still have to be either set up by parents or parents have to vote democratically to change the status of an existing school. There are currently 68 formally integrated schools and colleges, which represent 7.5% of Northern Ireland’s educational settings, educating around 25,000 children. But there is still no government plan for integrated education.
Jill Caskey, Parental Engagement Campaign Manager, IEF said: “The findings in this survey highlight the demand for integrated education in Northern Ireland and they should prompt our Executive to actively promote a fully integrated education system for the benefit of our entire society.”