We know that during discussions about Transformation and the running of Integrated Schools there will be a number of new terms that you may not have heard before. We have included some of these below with an explanation as to what each one means.

The Department of Education’s primary statutory duty is to promote the education of the people of Northern Ireland and to ensure the effective implementation of education policy. The Department’s main statutory areas of responsibility are 0-4 provision, primary, post-primary and special education and the youth service.

The Department is accountable through its Minister to the Assembly for the effective delivery of its statutory functions and for the effective use of the public funds for which it is responsible. It is supported in delivering its functions by a range of Arm's Length Bodies, each of which is accountable to the Department.

EA is responsible for ensuring that efficient and effective primary and secondary education services are available to meet the needs of children and young people, and support for the provision of efficient and effective youth services.

They help with all aspects of your child's journey through education from admission to pre-school, getting transport to school, changing schools, to moving through primary and post-primary. They are also here to help with newcomer issues, special educational needs and provide support whenever you or your child needs it.

The Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS) is the advocate for the Catholic Maintained schools sector in Northern Ireland. CCMS supports the management of Catholic Maintained schools through boards of governors.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) was formed as a charitable organisation to:

  • co-ordinate efforts to develop Integrated Education; and
  • support parent groups through the process of opening new schools.

It also co-ordinates the efforts of the Council, Trusts and Schools through its Board of Directors.

The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) was established in 1992 with money from European Union Structural Funds, the Department of Education NI, the Nuffield Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, as a financial foundation for the development and growth of integrated education.

The IEF seeks to bridge the financial gap between starting integrated schools and securing full government funding and support.

The IEF financially supports the establishment of new schools, the growth of existing schools and those schools seeking to become integrated through the transformation process.

The Controlled Schools’ Support Council supports controlled schools, which are open to all faiths and none, in providing high quality education for children and young people to enable them to learn, develop and grow together, within the ethos of non-denominational Christian values and principles.

Controlled Schools are managed and funded by the Education Authority (EA) through Boards of Governors (BoG).  Primary and post-primary school BoGs consist of representatives of transferors - mainly the Protestant churches - along with representatives of parents, teachers and the EA.

The School Development Plan (SDP) is a strategic plan for improvement.

It should bring together, in a clear and simple way, the school priorities, the main measures it will take to raise standards, the resources dedicated to these, and the key outcomes and targets it intends to achieve.

The ‘Every School a Good School' policy emphasises that school improvement is first and foremost the responsibility of the school.  It is based on the premise that schools themselves are best placed to identify areas for improvement and to implement changes that bring about better outcomes for pupils.

You can find out more about School Development Plans here (

A Controlled Integrated is a controlled school that has acquired integrated status through the process of transformation.

A Grant Maintained or GMI School is a self-governing school with integrated education status, funded directly by the Department of Education and managed by Boards of Governors.  The BoG is the employing authority and responsible for employing staff. 

Voluntary Schools are Self-governing, generally of long standing, originally established to provide an academic education at post primary level on a fee paying basis. Now funded by the Department and managed by Boards of Governors. The BoGs are constituted in accordance with each school's scheme of management - usually representatives of foundation governors, parents, teachers and in most cases, DE or EA representatives. The BoGs is the employing authority and is responsible for the employment of all staff in its school

Maintained schools are managed by Boards of Governors which consist of members nominated by trustees, along with representatives of parents, teachers and the Education Authority.  These schools are funded through the Education Authority for their running costs and directly by the Department in relation to capital building works. For Catholic Maintained schools, the Employing Authority is the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS).  Other maintained schools are any schools that are not Catholic maintained. They are typically, but not exclusively, Irish medium schools.

An independent school is a school at which full-time education is provided for pupils aged from 4 to 16 and is not grant aided. These schools set their own curriculum and admissions policies and are funded by fees paid by parents and income from investments. Each independent school must be registered with DE and is inspected regularly by ETI

A special school is a controlled or voluntary school which is specially organised to provide education for pupils with special needs and is recognised by the DE as a special school. 

Area Planning is the process of strategic planning of primary and post primary education provision that supports the implementation of the Department's Sustainable Schools Policy which aims to ensure that all pupils have access to a broad and balanced curriculum that meets their educational needs and in a sustainable school.


A number of FAQ's about Area Planning can be found here (

Transformation is the name given to the legal process whereby a school becomes an integrated school.

Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) includes all forms of education that takes place outside the formal school environment.  

The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) is a ‘unitary’ inspectorate and part of the Department of Education (DE), providing independent inspection services and policy advice for DE.

CCEA is a unique educational body in the UK, bringing together the three areas of curriculum, examinations and assessment.

Advising Government - On what should be taught in Northern Ireland’s schools and colleges.

Monitoring Standards - Ensuring that the qualifications and examinations offered by awarding bodies in Northern Ireland are of an appropriate quality and standard.

Awarding Qualifications - As Northern Ireland’s leading awarding body we offer a diverse range of qualifications, such as GCSEs, GCE A and AS levels, Entry Level Qualifications and Vocational Qualifications.

Electoral Reform Services is the UK’s leading independent provider of end-to-end ballot, election and voting services.