Parents at Cairnshill Primary School in South Belfast have voted overwhelmingly in favour of beginning the process of Transformation to Integrated status, with 88% of parents voting saying yes to becoming an Integrated school.
Cairnshill, one of the largest primary schools in South Belfast, with over 550 pupils, has become the sixth school this year to successfully ballot their parents in favour of becoming of an Integrated school.
No school can become Integrated without the consent of a majority of parents. Parents get to vote by secret ballot on whether they approve such a move.
Joanne Currie, Principal of Cairnshill Primary School, said:
“We are delighted with the overwhelming results of the parental ballot. As a school with high quality teaching and learning and a strong history of inclusion for over 50 years, this result indicates an exciting future ahead. The ethos of the school is reflected in the views of the parents and the Board of Governors and we look forward to serving the local community in the next 50 years and beyond. We will work closely with The Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund in the future to ensure that the already inclusive ethos of the school is further strengthened.”
Tina Merron, Chief Executive of the Integrated Education Fund said:
“We applaud the result of the parental ballot held in Cairnshill Primary School which underlines just how much parents want an Integrated Education. I commend the Board of Governors at Cairnshill for giving their parents this opportunity. The results from other parental ballots held in recent years suggests that when parents are informed and engaged on the issue of Integrated status for their child’s school, then an overwhelming majority tend to vote in favour. This is most encouraging and reflects the results of many public attitude surveys held on this important issue.”
Roisin Marshall, Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Integrated Education, said:
“This is a significant result for Cairnshill Primary School. As one of the largest primary schools in South Belfast, it shows the swell of parental support for providing children the opportunity to learn alongside a mix of community backgrounds and I congratulate them on being the change they want to see within our education system. The Council for Integrated Education looks forward to hearing the stories of how the children, parents and governors have benefitted from their Integrated experience learning together for a shared society.”
The ballots were carried out by Civica Election Services, and every adult registered as a parent or guardian was eligible to vote in confidence on the school’s future. The turnout was 63%.
The next step will be compiling a Development Proposal, which will be submitted to the Department of Education including a Transformation Action Plan. The Minister for Education will then make the final decision.
Almost every school in the country, apart from hospital and special schools, can apply to Transform to Integrated Status and the parental ballot is a major step in this journey. The IEF and Council for Integrated Education provide support and advice for parents, staff and Governors considering taking the first steps to Integrated education.
Note for editors:
The IEF is an independent charity that targets financial support for the development and growth of integrated education. Our aim is to enable children to learn together in an environment that celebrates religious and cultural diversity, making integration, not separation, the norm in the Northern Ireland education system. On the basis of parental demand we continue to support the establishment of more integrated school places, the transformation of existing non-integrated schools to integrated status and cross-community school initiatives that provide meaningful interaction between pupils, parents, staff and the wider community.
The Council for Integrated Education 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 is now a non-departmental public body tasked with supporting integrated schools and developing integrated education.
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