b'INTEGRATED EDUCATION IN NORTHERN IRELAND A PARENT-LED MOVEMENT THE CHALLENGES TO INTEGRATED EDUCATIONIntegrated education is a parent led and grassroots response to this division. GivenIndependent surveys and research always demonstrate high public support for Northern Irelands history it is perhaps unsurprising that it has received little politi- more integrated education but the gap between demand and supply remains vast. cal support from mainstream parties in Northern Ireland. Moreover, governmentThis is a great source of frustration but we must remember that there are signifi-has never planned for, nor created any integrated school. It was parents who es- cant barriers to growth. There is an absence of an education planning process that tablished the first ever planned integrated school, Lagan College, and each schooleffectively takes into account the preference of parents and local communities since has been created by parents either setting up new schools themselves or morewhen it comes to education provision and there are two separate statutory school recently by parents voting to change their childs existing school into an integratedplanning authorities, one for Catholic schools and one for the rest. It took the use school.of litigation in 2014 by Drumragh Integrated College in Omagh, after it was denied The number of schools has risen steadily to 65, and from just 28 pupils in 1981approval to expand to meet demand, to highlight how the Department of Education to over 24,000 today. Currently almost one in five first preference applications towas failing to implement its statutory duty to encourage and facilitate integrated integrated schools cannot be accommodated because so many of the schools areeducation properly. However, since the legal ruling, 30 school development propos-full to capacity.als for growth and expansion have been approved, with 23 existing schools now also in line for major capital funding from the UK Treasury under the Fresh Start Agreement, totalling 295 million. connect 201934'