What is Integrated Education?
Integrated schools bring together children and staff from Catholic and Protestant traditions, as well as those of other faiths or none. The schools are open to children of different abilities from all religious, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.
Integrated Education is defined in the Integrated Education Act of 2022 as education together in an Integrated school of,
- ‘Those of different cultures and religious beliefs and none, including reasonable numbers of both Protestant and Roman Catholic children or young persons;
- those who are experiencing socio-economic deprivation and those that are not; and
- those of different abilities
The first ever Integrated school was opened by parents in Belfast in 1981. Since then, many more Integrated schools have been developed with the intention of proactively bring young people together to support peace building in Northern Ireland.
As of 2023 there are 70 grant-aided integrated schools in Northern Ireland. These comprise schools which were created by parent groups (mainly ‘Grant Maintained Integrated’ schools) and those which came about from existing schools applying to become Integrated through the process of ‘Transformation’ (mainly ‘Controlled Integrated’ schools). There are 2 Integrated Nursery schools, 47 Integrated Primary schools and 21 Integrated post-primary schools.
All publicly funded schools in NI, including integrated schools, deliver the same statutory curriculum. However, there are different approaches which may be taken in delivering the curriculum in an Integrated school, for e.g. the choice of texts used within literacy, the language subjects available to pupils, the range of activities carried out in art, music, drama and PE and the places and people of local interest explored within Environment and Society.
A pupil within an integrated school should be able to see evidence of their culture and background reflected within their curricular experiences.
Integrated schools are essentially Christian in character but children of all faiths and of none are equally welcomed. Like any other school in Northern Ireland, Integrated schools have an obligation to deliver the NI Curriculum which in the case of religious education has been agreed by the four main Churches. Each young person is nurtured in the values of their own ethnic, religious and cultural background in a way that also helps them develop respect for the beliefs and values of other pupils.
All parents have the right to withdraw their child from religious education classes should they wish to do so.
Integrated schools recognise that NI is a post-conflict divided society. They exist to provide a shared space where children can learn about each other in a safe environment. Children are encouraged to take pride in and celebrate their own cultural and religious identities.
Discussion and exploration of difference is encouraged. Integrated schools support those pupils whose parents wish them to be prepared for the Catholic Sacraments and events such as Remembrance Day and Harvest festivals are important dates in the school calendar.
Integrated schools are welcoming to all children and young people regardless of their ability and pride themselves on being inclusive learning spaces.
As well as developing the child’s full academic potential, Integrated schools focus on developing the whole person.
If my child has no local access to Integrated Education, will I be supported in their travel to the nearest Integrated school?
The Education Authority will provide transport, or a transport allowance to enable your child to attend your nearest Integrated school, if the school is:
- More than 2 miles from your home for a primary pupil
- More than 3 miles from your home for a post primary pupil
For further information, or to apply visit the Home to School transport section.
The Integrated Education Bill received Royal Assent on the 22nd April 2022. As a result, the Department of Education and the Education Authority have a statutory duty to “encourage, facilitate and support” Integrated Education.
There are Integrated schools all over Northern Ireland. To find your nearest Integrated school, see the ‘search schools’ section below.
For further information on Integrated Education from EA, you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit the websites of other organisations which provide support for parents who are interested in finding out more about Integrated Education: