Are schools to be part of a ‘Shared Future’?

These Westminster parliamentary questions by a Labour MP from the North East of England on how education is to measure up against several strategic initiatives demonstrate the degree to which no one is scrutinising is public policy in Northern Ireland.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon):To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, why special schools in Northern Ireland are not permitted to move to integrated status.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon):To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what steps (a) education and library boards and (b) the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools are taking in their rationalisation plans to ensure that the principles of the Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations in Northern Ireland: A Shared Future are delivered.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon):To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what the timescale is for the Strategic Review of the Schools Estate; and whether it will consider how promoting cross-community and cross-sectoral sharing can be incorporated into rationalisation of schools.

Mr David Anderson (Blaydon):To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what powers he has to ensure that all educational partners in Northern Ireland meet the requirements of the Policy and Strategic Framework for Good Relations: A Shared Future?


Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Maybe blame the Catholic Church, the GAA and the AOH for the phobias that force progressives to discriminate against them. There will come a time when the Catholic system will voluntarly unravel. The recent move by the Christian Brothers was the first step.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Did any of these questions come with answers?

  • End Sectarianism

    Smash the sectarian ccms NOW !!!
    End Discrimination NOW !!!
    End Sectarianism NOW !!!


  • Mick Fealty

    They were written questions. We’ll try to bring you the answers in due course, when the minister concerned gets around to it.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Thank you.

  • Mark Adams

    I think Mr Anderson has proven once again his creditionals as a bigot. Perhaps he should spend more time asking about the sex offences in his boss church or the seemingly endless bigotry of his own colleagues in Ballymena. Oh and another thing perhaps ‘End Sectarianism’ could actually look at the way education is set up in Northern Ireland as CCMS only represent Secondary Schools. Maybe he is just confused as he’s having difficulty putting his red beret and blaclava on.

  • Brenda

    Hmmm…. haven’t we had a similar debate on another thread just recently, however, the last time they shook up education and had a major debate on it, was when they introduced comprehensive schools here,(which wasn’t yesterday) and did away with schools which had works trainning in them. then they came along and introduced those same schools as technical colleges for when a child turned 18.

    there are too many subjects taught in our schools which could be classed as dead subjects, and not enough vocational trainning and getting people ready for work.

    If schools are to mean anything they should prepare children for the workforce. Thats sadly lacking in our schools and it should be brought back in a much more pro active way.

  • willis

    Mark Adams

    I’m confused. Do you think Mr Anderson is in the DUP? He is a Labour M.P. Blaydon is in N.E. England.

  • Keith M

    If the state believes (as I do) that Northern Ireland’s communities should be brought together at the earliest possible opportunity then they should consider why they fund schools run by a particular religeon.

    If parents want to raise and educate their children with a potentially divisive religeous ethos, that is their entitlement, but they should be made pay (the full cost) for it.

  • Crataegus

    Are schools to be part of a ‘Shared Future’?

    Not if the other recent thread on this issue is anything to go by. Sad but not surprised

  • Proud

    Couldn’t agree more Keith M, I have long been an advocate of removing funding for sectarian education and using the funds saved to invest in the existing state system – after sorting out the whole selection mess that is. Drop the support for the CCMS and various protestant school organisations and put the money to better use.

    One of the things that bugs me re: NI education is the assumption that State schools are exclusively protestant. I attended one such school, there was no religious criteria for attendance, as a result I was educated with Catholic classmates. Sadly only a small number as the majority apparently attend CCMS schools.

  • Carson’s Cat

    “Drop the support for the CCMS and various protestant school organisations and put the money to better use.”

    Exactly what support for ‘Protestant school organisations’ is there? So called ‘Protestant’ schools are actually state/controlled schools. There is no such thing as a ‘Protestant’ school except a few independent Christian schools which recieve no public funding and are run entirely through donations.


    I really detest the idea of religious schools, but I detest the notion that we take away peoples freedom to have them even more.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but children attending Catholic schools have parents who pay taxes the same as everyone else, so in this sense, they are paying for them.

  • Rapunsel

    I believe that the education system should be secular and that if parents want their children to benefit from a particular sort of religious education then they should be prepared to pay for that themselves. That said the existence of controlled and maintained schools in Northern Ireland is as much a product of the conflict as the other manifestations of it. Whilst I am a supporter of integrated education I do not suscribe to the simplistic notion that if all our children went to integrated schools then everything would be alright. Those that claim that it is wrong to equate state with protestant schools are I believe wrong. Explain the make up of the Boards of governors in such schools? As far as I can see they are populated with unionist councillors and ministers from the various protestant churches. We are where we are and it looks like a proces sof incremental change might get us to a better place where more existing schools become integrated and where theer is support and funding for new integrated schools. The existence of catholic schools must also be looked at in the context of the discrimination against catholics from the existence of the state and before. Was the same not the case with dissenting protestants in the past? As far as I can remember in the recent past a large part of the costs of catholic education were actually met from parish funds raised directly from parishioners.

  • Animus

    I’m with Rapunsel and Keith on this one too. I don’t think school is the place for religion, unless it’s taught as mythology or social studies, and I have fundamental issues with the way RE is taught as a subject which has the same validity as maths or French.

    If people want their children to be instructed in religion, rather than taught about it, they should pay for it. This is the ostensible difference between state schools and CM schools. Would you want your tax money to be spent educating children that the moon is made of green cheese or creationism?

  • lib2016

    Isn’t there a provision for ‘state’ schools to join the integrated sector if the parents so desire? The state system here came from the taking over by the state of the old Protestant-run system and was accompanied by certain guarantees to the Protestant churches about the running of those schools.

    There have been recent allegations about the ‘packing’ of those school boards by Protestant representatives in preparation for an attempt to withdraw state aid from the church schools.

    As usual unionists are vastly overestimating their own strength. This isn’t a runner – not a prayer, Protestant or Catholic! 😉

    It may however be part of an attempt to whip up sectarian feelings – now which part of our society might see a benefit from that exercise?