Two primary schools in Northern Ireland have started the process of becoming recognised as officially integrated schools.
Parents at Straid Primary School in Ballyclare and St Anne’s Primary School in Donaghadee are said to have voted overwhelmingly for the move.
There are 68 officially integrated schools in Northern Ireland, while several others are in transition, including Glengormley High and Bangor Central Nursery School.
Officially integrated schools aim to attract roughly equal demographics among pupils, teaching staff and board of governors.
Some 7% of children in Northern Ireland attend officially integrated schools, although some schools in other sectors have similarly equal demographics of pupils without official status.
The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) have welcomed the latest parental ballots.
NICIE chief executive Roisin Marshall said: “The Council for Integrated Education welcomes the result of this ballot as evidence of the demand for Integrated Education within the parent bodies at Straid PS and St Anne’s.
We welcome the positive result from the parental ballot held at both schools. This reflects the growing interest and demand for integrated education from parents, schools and local communitiesTina Merron, IEF
“We will continue to support the schools to develop their vision of a sustainable Integrated Primary Schools serving all members of the local community.”
IEF chief executive Tina Merron added: “We welcome the positive result from the parental ballot held at both schools.
“This reflects the growing interest and demand for integrated education from parents, schools and local communities.
“In particular, Straid has traditionally only attracted pupils from mainly one side of the local community and it is clear that there is a real desire to reach out and welcome parents and children of all faiths and none into the school.”
Parental ballots are the first step in the process for schools to become officially integrated, before compiling a development proposal for submission to the Department of Education for approval by the minister.