Voters say they want politicians to back mixed schools…

WHEN 1,000 people were asked if they would like to see their political representatives support integrated education, 80% replied ‘yes’, according to a new survey. And 59% said they’d be more likely to vote for a party or candidate that supported mixed schools. While the survey probably overstates the influence of the issue on elections (for many voters there’s still only one issue!), parental demand for integrated education outstrips provision by around 1,000 places each year.

  • Who cares? So long as people continue to vote based on not letting the other side win, there’s no need for the parties to represent the wishes of those who vote for them on any of the bread and butter issues.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    “Who cares?”

    80%, according to the survey.

    How many care enough to change their vote might get a different answer though!

  • londonderry_loyal

    I would like to see the stats for integrated schools??

    I know a few that call themselves integrated and theres over well over 50% making up one specific side!!

  • Garibaldy

    Voters tell lies. Look at the performance of long-term pro-integrated education parties like Alliance and The Workers’ Party. In decline as alleged support for integrated education has climbed.

  • willis

    Sadly an incredibly vague survey.

    At this point there is one Integrated Education target above all others. No CCMS school has gone integrated. Once that happens we will know that there is a will to leave sectarianism behind.

  • Setanta

    Firstly, exactly who commissioned the research?
    The integrated education lobby perhaps?

    What exactly were people asked, in some of these things they may as well be asking, “Do you like fluffy kittens?”

    There is then “wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time” style propaganda about integrated education. So many people feel brow beaten into keeping quiet when integrated edication is not their choice.

    Call me cynical, but I call this “Four legs good…”

  • Greenflag

    Now that 90% plus of the population of NI is physically segregated into sectarian enclaves this survey is a bit like asking the French would they like some horse meat after the last horse has become extinct .

    ‘Setanta,

    ‘they may as well be asking, “Do you like fluffy kittens?”

    Rare , medium rare or well done 🙁

    It’s August .

  • Garibaldy

    I prefer my fluffy kittens drowned.

  • harry

    The problem the Workers Party have is that they continue to carry out punishment beatings.

    Members of the party continued their paramilitary activity last week when they carried out a punishment attack on a 15 year old in Albert Street last weekend.

    How can you be pro integration when you are maiming kids ??

  • Setanta

    I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned the kittens…too, too distracting…

  • I wonder how many would actually send their children to integrated schools though, given the choice.

  • DK

    “Now that 90% plus of the population of NI is physically segregated into sectarian enclaves this survey is a bit like asking the French would they like some horse meat after the last horse has become extinct.”

    Except that one of the biggest and most successful, Hazelwood, sits between and within 2 hardcore segregated communities.

    Also, the recent survey you are thinking of that shows that physical segregation was growing only referred to one locality – overall it is not growing (the author of the report even wrote in to slugger to complain he was mis-represented)

    As for Catholic schools not going integrated, they are rarely mixed to any significant level, while a very many state schools are. So it’s no wonder that state schools are the ones who end up integrated.

  • Henry94

    When asked if they would like to see their MP, MLA or local councillor supporting integrated education in Northern Ireland, 80% of the respondents said ‘yes’.

    Do they mean forced integration or extended parental choice? Surveys carried out by interest groups have no value. They are designed to produce a result and should be ignored.

  • mnob

    OK – this is a genuine question so dont flame me. As far as I understand it – there are state schools and religious schools. At my state school there were (albeit a very small number) of Catholics who attended.

    State schools are not protestant schools – what is the problem with Catholics attending them ?

    Surely integrated schooling already exists – its just that Catholics choose not to attenf ?

  • DK

    mnob – depends on where the school is located. So Ballysillan Boys Model is 100% protestant and a scary location for a Catholic to travel to. Cavehill, on the other hand is fairly mixed as the surrounding area is mixed. I don’t know if the existing catholic schools were originally state schools, or purpose built as catholic schools as the nearest state schools were in dangerous areas.

  • T.Ruth

    The state school system is integrated and the diversion of valuable finance and other resources to promote a limited number of integrated schools is only scratching the surface of the need to educate children together.Those who wish to have schools outside the state system should pay full price for the privilege. We cannot continue sustaining such a diverse system. It is time to have a sweeping rationalisation policy that maximises the quality of educational provision in schools that are open to all.

  • Alan

    “Surely integrated schooling already exists – its just that Catholics choose not to attenf ? ”

    Absolutely not !

    This is the completely disingenuous arguement peddled by the DUP and some other Unionists.

    Integration is about recognising all sides of our society – note I said all sides, not both sides. It is about protestants playing gaelic and catholics playing hockey. It is about talking about Sinn Fein and the DUP and giving them equal value. It is about recognising muslim as well as christian holidays (though they also need to recognise secular ideas more than they do).

    Failure to take other people’s culture on board is not integration. That is what has consistently happened in Controled and Maintained schools. How you get them to do that is a matter for discussion, bearing in mind the abysmal failure of schools to work to introduce EMU.

  • Garibaldy

    Alan,

    Surely integration should not be about reshaping our society around all the various religious traditions. It should be about treating all citizens of the state equally and ignoring what religion they may or may not be. Ban religion from schools, not kowtow to it still more than we already do.

  • memorystick

    80% of people supporting integrated education sounds suspect, especially when less than 10% vote for parties that support integrated education. Sounds like people were trying to sounds more inclusive than they actually are.

  • IJP

    These surveys are so flawed it is unbelievable.

    The Ulster Unionists and SDLP both last week blocked a simple resolution in Assembly Committee “We are committed to a shared educational future”.

    Are we seriously suggesting that the thousands of Ulster Unionist and SDLP voters supposedly “committed” to shared education will now be switching their votes?

    I somehow doubt it.

    I would put an end to such dreamland surveys.

  • Animus

    Part of the reason Catholics choose not to attend state schools is because Catholicism isn’t a church-on-Sunday sort of thing. It is supposed to permeate your whole life. I actually heard a young woman at an event say that all teachers in Catholic schools should be Catholic (including, maths teachers) because it’s about an ethos. Bringing Prods, atheists or any other religionist in to teach would ‘dilute’ the effect on young people.

    Religion should be taught like anthropology or any other social ‘science’.

    In polls people say what they think the pollster wants to hear and it depends on the question. Take a topical example. If you ask people, do you hate foreigners?, they will usually say no. But if you ask if there are too many migrant workers allowed in to the UK, a substantially higher number will say yes.

  • fair_deal

    It is more likely a case of the issue may change the person’s perception of the party to a softer one rather than change voter behaviour, not necessarily a bad thing, demotivating your opponents voters is as much a key to success as motivating your own.

    The key question in terms of voter behaviour is “Would this one issue be enough for you to switch to a party that does not represent your constitutional preference?”

  • mnob

    Alan – in my state school education I saw no practices that could be seen to exclude Catholics – OK fair enough we played rugby rather than gaelic but I dont think this is an issue with the system – there’s no law that states state schools can play GAA sport. If there were enough like minded people on the PTA or board then I’m sure this could be changed.

    Animus thanks for that response – does that rule Catholics out of any integrated education ?

    T

  • IJP

    Or even:

    Would this one issue be enough for you to switch to a party that does not specifically represent your constitutional preference?

    But the real problem is getting an honest answer.

    NILT has never got SF’s vote above about 11%…

  • Animus

    Mnob – my own view is that it would only rule out the most devout. Many Catholics in Northern Ireland are defined by community background, not so much by belief. My opposition to sending my own son to a Catholic school stems from the idea that he would be surrounded by that ethos, indoctrinated from a young age. So I wouldn’t say it rules out Catholics at all, any more than having Free P schools rules out Protestants from integrated education. There are many shades of belief and many people choose in the end on the basis of how good the school is.

  • Alan

    “If there were enough like minded people on the PTA or board then I’m sure this could be changed.”

    I’m sure that, without government intervention, it would not happen at all.

    The PTA raise money and the Board are mostly appointees. When issues of substance, within the competence of the board of governors, are raised, the matter is passed to the principal. It is rare for anything to change.

    This is the case even when, to give a personal example,now that the kids are no longer at the controled school, the school decides to hold its centenary celebrations in the local Presby school. That was complete with christian prayers for a school that is substantially mixed and with a significant muslim enrolment ( yes, its in Belfast).

    Garibaldy,

    As a non-believer, I can’t agree with you on no religion in schools. Kids need an understanding of it to operate in an increasingly fractious world. The way to do that is to teach “Belief” and include all religions and none, rather than the obnoxious form of christian prosyletizing that is taught in our schools.

  • Alan

    Sorry that should be

    the local Presby church

  • Garibaldy

    Alan,

    a course on ethics perhaps, but I agree no teaching of theology.

  • Animus

    As I said in a previous post, throw it in with anthropology or civic studies, but not as theology. Sate their curiousity and bore them with comparative detail.

  • Garibaldy

    Animus,

    agreed

  • kensei

    “As I said in a previous post, throw it in with anthropology or civic studies, but not as theology. Sate their curiousity and bore them with comparative detail.”

    Why is this any of your business? Why is it not parental (or later on student) choice?

  • Garibaldy

    Because the state pays for it Kensei.

  • willis

    Thing is, only the DUP are actually against Integrated Education. In the Sdlp Carmel Hanna and Alister McDonnell are for as is Sylvia Hermon in the UUP. SF have made encouraging noises. Alliance are all for.

    So what was the point of the survey?

  • Alan

    “Because the state pays for it Kensei. ”

    More than that, the state sponsors a divisive and discriminatory programme of study.

    They left the development of the new programme to the four main christian churches. What did they do? They refused to allow any discussion of any other religion or belief other than Christianity at primary level. Kids can parrot the divinity of christ and Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, but nothing else is actually laid out for study.

    Check it out for yourself at

    http://www.deni.gov.uk/index/80-curriculumandassessment_pg/80-curriculum_and_assessment-religiouseducationcoresyllabus_pg.htm

  • Animus

    It’s my business because I’m a parent and I no more want my child to be taught religion unchallenged than I would wish for him to be taught alchemy. Of course the fact that I pay taxes to teach children mythology as truth is just a further irritant.

  • IJP

    Sorry, it is not good enough for a politician to claim to support integrated education while remaining in a party which actively opposes any form of shared education.

    Carmel Hanna‘s and Alisdair McDonnell‘s party opposed the recent call to accept the principle of “shared education” (of any kind) in future when it came up in Assembly Committee this month.

    Sylvia Hermon‘s party opposed the recent call to accept the principle of “shared education” (of any kind) in future when it came up in Assembly Committee this month.

    When it comes to the vote, Carmel Hanna, Alisdair McDonnell and Sylvia Hermon should be assumed to oppose integrated education, and even shared education in principle.

    Tribal politics or a shared (educational) future – they’ve opted for the former, like it or not.