By the start of September, the number of integrated schools here will have risen to 70.
It may not seem like a lot in the overall educational landscape and it still only amounts to around 7% of pupils across the spectrum of educational choices available to parents.
Compare this with recent research that shows well over 70% of parents want more integration in education and it’s clear the momentum for change is growing.
They want a different, more progressive outlook for their children’s future.
In 1981, there were just 28 pupils as Lagan College opened in a scout centre and progress has been slower than many would have liked.
At this time, they faced a church-dominated education system that had seen little challenge for change over the course of 60 years.
However, step by step, there has been increasing support for integration.
The integrated sector will have been buoyed by the passing of the Integrated Education Bill earlier this year.
It’s the first time it has been placed on an equal footing with other sectors in its now 40-year history.
Integrated education fought hard to earn a seat at the table, but how much of a share of the goods on offer it can manage to gobble up will be the next task.
As the Integrated Education Fund launched its new three-year strategy, Baroness May Blood said the process had started as a pipe dream.
It hasn’t been an easy route, but the more chipping away at the rocks, the easier that route is becoming. There is now daylight ahead and with the new strategy comes the plan to shed more light on the future Northern Ireland could have.
Changing the hearts and minds of young parents will be the easy task.
There is already a willingness to bring more integration to the children of today.
It’s the hearts and minds of others, those who hold the purse strings and cling tight to the old days, that will be the longer battle.
But longer will integrated education be on the outside looking in, despite the political wrangling that sought to deny it a place at the table as the debate raged through Stormont over the last six months.
The plan will need 10 schools a year over the next three years to reach its target. There is no doubt those involved with the sector have that commitment to make it happen. They’ve come too far to give up now and they have some big-name backers in President Michael D Higgins, boxer Carl Frampton, comedian Patrick Kielty and actor Liam Neeson.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis, at an NIO conference on A More Confident and Inclusive Northern Ireland, said a new government programme would promote the benefits of integrated education to parents, teachers and pupils. None of the vested interests in education were included. Preaching for inclusion without being inclusive doesn’t work.
The other main issue will be the impasse at Stormont. With no government comes no progress.
More schools may choose to become integrated in the next few years, but waiting for it to happen will have a new set of hurdles placed in the way.
One of the hurdles is smaller, though.
The DUP was vehemently opposed to the Integrated Education Bill, but its hold on Stormont has been loosened.
One hundred integrated schools in three years will be a tall order, but if you don’t aim high, you’ll never reach the limit of your capabilities.
A pipe dream it may all have been 40 years ago, but the smoke signals are rising.