We have written the following questions and answers after conversations with local community groups.
If you have any additional questions or would like more information please contact Jessica Blomkvist, the IEF Community Outreach Officer, by email: Jessica@ief.org.uk
Integrate My School is a website where parents can register their interest in their child’s school becoming an integrated school. It is designed to empower parents to express their support for integrated education.
It is not a voting system, but a place where parents can register their support for Transformation. Once the registrations on the website reach 10% the IEF will contact the school just to keep them informed and to encourage engagement with key stakeholders.
When registrations reach over 20% the IEF will again advise the school and provide details of all those who have registered. The school will then check and verify that those registered make up parents / guardians of 20% of the pupils in the school. The Department of Education then requires the school to hold a parental ballot, as detailed on The Department of Education Integration WorksGuidance, p20:
‘the Board of Governors receives a signed request to initiate a ballot of parents from at least 20 percent of parents of pupils registered at the school.’
The parental ballot is the opportunity for parents to vote on whether they want the school to transform. The ballot is postal and organised by an independent organisation known as CIVICA, formerly the Electoral Reform Service (ERS) and therefore all responses remain confidential. Every adult registered as a parent/guardian of a child at the school will get a vote. (One vote per registered parent or guardian). The parental ballot will give all eligible parents/guardians the opportunity to vote, irrespective of whether or not they registered on the IMS website.
There are currently 65 integrated schools across Northern Ireland; 45 primary schools and 20 post-primary schools.
The consultation process can be started by any group involved in the school. You can help to start the process by going to the website integratemyschool.com to register your support for your child’s school to become integrated. To move on to the ballot phase, parents / guardians of at least 20% of pupils in the school must request the ballot or the Board of Governors must pass a resolution to hold a ballot. The Board of Governors will then write to the managing authority, for example the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and/or the Education Authority, to notify them of this decision. The ballot must be held between 1-3 months of this happening.
As of January 2019, 25 schools have already transformed into integrated schools thanks to the support of their parents. Principals, staff and parents of these schools are happy to share their experience with other interested schools - you can contact the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) to arrange this.
Not necessarily. Some schools do decide, with the support of the school community, to introduce the term ‘integrated’ into their title or choose a new logo or even a completely new name to reflect their new status.
Area Planning is the process through which the Department of Education’s Sustainable Schools Policy is implemented. It aims to identify the need for all types of education provision in an area and to plan to meet that need. The Education Authority working in conjunction with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools and the other sectoral support bodies, including representatives of the integrated sector, are involved in the planning process. Transformation is a process through which a sustainable school changes its management type and ethos to become integrated. This presents a valuable opportunity to increase the level of integrated education in an area to meet parental demand.
The first person to ask about Transformation should be your school principal, or your Board of Governors. If you would like more information about what Transformation is before contacting your school, you can contact the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE), or the Education Authority, who should all be able to provide you with some more information. If you decide that you do want your school to transform, you can use the Integrate My School website to register your support.
For a school to no longer be integrated, the Education Minister must approve a further Development Proposal to change the school’s management type. The religious balance within a school does not affect its legal position as a Grant-Maintained or Controlled Integrated school.
No integrated school has ever chosen to no longer be integrated.