Four more Northern Ireland schools have started the process towards integrated education.
It comes a week after the Integrated Education Fund launched a new strategy that aims to have 100 integrated schools here by the end of 2025.
Parental ballots held before the end of term at St Eugene’s Primary in Strabane, Magherafelt Nursery School, St Eugene’s Primary in Omagh and Model PS in Lurgan all came out strongly in favour of making the transition.
No school can become integrated without the consent of a majority of parents by secret ballot.
St Eugene’s Primary in Strabane saw 87% vote yes, 84% were in favour at Magherafelt Nursery, 87% were also in favour at St Eugene’s in Omagh, while 99% voted yes at Lurgan Model PS.
By the start of the new term in September, there will be 70 integrated schools here.
Lesley Whiteside, principal of Magherafelt Nursery, said she was delighted that her school can continue on the path to integration.
“We want to thank our parents for prioritising the transformation ballot and for supporting Magherafelt Nursery School in the move towards integrated status,” she said.
“Learning together and understanding each other is central to the inclusive and cross-community learning environment which has been the fabric and culture of our school ethos since opening in 1975.”
Four new schools joined the integrated community last year – Harding Memorial, Central IPS, Seaview IPS and Brefne Nursery.
Glengormley High School and Bangor Central Nursery School have also been approved for transformation from September.
Tina Merron, chief executive of the Integrated Education Fund, welcomed the latest schools to confirm positive parental ballots.
“We applaud the result of the parental ballots and this only goes to underline just how much parents want integrated education,” she said.
“Recent figures have confirmed that integrated schools are consistently oversubscribed, and we need to work together to deliver an integrated place for every child that wants one.”
The next step for the schools will be to compile a development proposal and a transformation action plan, which will be submitted to the Department of Education. The Minister for Education will then make the final decision.