A plan for parental choice – the route to transformation


“This is typical Peter Robinson,” said Ms Ritchie.

“On the one hand he says the most visionary thing ever said by a DUP politician about our divided society, and then he spoils it with an old-fashioned political sideswipe at Catholic schools.

“He is still right that we should aim for a future where our children are increasingly educated together – but blaming Catholics for the division is shameful and totally the wrong place to start.”


OK, so there’s a squabble about Peter’s sincerity. Perhaps he sees a chance of long term efficiency savings. Or he might mean that if a majority of Catholics were to embrace integration, the rump would have to go private. This won’t happen. A new system based on integration must allow state funded opt-out and probably privately funded opt-out too. If by some remote chance the Assembly abolished religious education tomorrow, the courts would not let it stand.

But look on the bright side. Three leaders including Peter have uttered soundbites in favour. We can factor in the Alliance party. Integration presents one type of challenge to Catholics and another to Protestants and “others.” It’s at least interesting that the politicians are talking as if these challenges can be met. This could be the moment when powersharing springs to life and presents a clear vision that goes to the heart of our divided society. Will they seize it? The even bigger question is whether they are speaking for a public mood which up to now has been suppressed by tradition and by the weight of the Troubles. Could this be peace at last?

But simple idealism is not the only motive. An integrated school can help halt Protestant flight in areas of Catholic population growth. Bigger pressures in favour of integration have been clear for years but generally dismissed as incapable of being fulfilled. Key among them are the marginal costs of division during the years of austerity ahead. Another is the wider range of subjects of the entitlement framework needed to upskill our young people for a modern economy. Some State and Catholic schools should federate in order to provide the full range. There is also a chance here to cut by consent the Gordian knot over academic selection.

Problems over the curriculum are exaggerated. It works well already and is designed to teach students to think for themselves and appreciate diversity rather than fear it. Education does not exist to promote national, cultural and religious stereotypes.

All parties have to agree what they mean by integration. One size fits all: or most children educated together regardless of religion, but still differentiated by aptitude and type of school? I suggest the latter: one size fits all is not viable for reasons given above.

Integration is unlikely to happen in a Big Bang and is more likely to catch on in stages. People must be allowed not to join in or the whole system might never get off the ground even with all party support.


I’m no expert but here’s an outline action plan.

 1.    Not only the political parties but the churches and lay bodes involved have to agree the principle of an integration plan. Integration becomes the norm. The issue of Catholic and integrated school ownership has to be settled. It is stressed that implementation is voluntary and protects ethos based on parental choice. 

2.   The present system of schools sectors and management is replaced.

3.    Regional management of schools, which goes again the grain of new developments in GB, is designed for the stalled Education and Skills authority (ESA) to administer the present segregated system. This bureaucratic system should be radically amended in favour of a new one based on parental choice exercised at school level on the model of the new English academies or similar. Only a system based on choice can deliver the diversity to make integration possible (a necessary paradox).

4.   Area based planning extends to all primary and secondary schools in all sectors. It is based in the first instance purely on demographics – (without regard to State and Catholic and integrated, controlled and maintained sectors) – and on implementing the entitlement framework in the area’s secondary schools (curriculum choice

5.    On the basis of the area plan, parents, teachers and other interested        parties form consortia to refine the plan for each school to suit their needs and aspirations and then bid to ESA to control it. Cross community consortia would be encouraged, some of them to amalgamate state and Catholic schools to provide wider curriculum range

6.    Clear differentiation by school type is created: academic or specialist music, sport, vocational. A faith category is essential as an enforceable human right. If the parties are right and the integrated system is attractive, faith schools will be a minority. ESA the regulator awards control of each school on the basis of its fit for the local entitlement framework and the degree of local support the plan enjoys. All plans are open to consultation by local councillors, civil society, teachers’ unions, educationalists and just plain folks. The Assembly education committee holds hearings on the new system in advance of a Green Paper, a White Paper and primary legislation. The area plans are scaled up into a regional plan describing the options for each school in the province before local bidding for control of each of them opens

7.   The present Catholic and integrated sectors are already well placed to make bids to control schools. Other groups must be given time to emerge. The new system might take five years to launch, from initial debates to the point where kids, parents and teachers are working the new system.

8.   Fair employment law is extended to teaching, to close up the Protestant/Catholic/secular split

9.   The exercise of parental choice in a new governance system obviates the need for academic selection in most cases

10.  The Assembly has to decide whether to create a category of schools with matching private funding. Since Catholic schools finally became fully funded in the 1970s, there is not much of a tradition of private funding in NI.

11.  Matching private funding might be allowed where:

the state school pupil quota isn’t met but a strong minority still want a school;

a strong minority wants an entry test;

business or charities wish to invest in a specialist school

12.  Schools attracting little or no interest are earmarked for closure or transformation by ESA, depending on local needs. By the same token local groups may also bid to set up new schools on green field sites on the academy or integrated school models.

13.  Appeals and disputes are referred to the Department of Education and can be debated in the Assembly. Councils are invited to give their opinions.

14.   School performance and governance are reviewed every five years. If the first phase is very popular, more schools may opt for integration.

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  • “Education does not exist to promote national, cultural and religious stereotypes.”

    But it is a useful tool:

    “After partition Northern Nationalists kept a respectful distance from the State and became ‘a society within a society’. The Catholic Church was the key institution in integrating the community and clerical leadership was important. There was an intertwining of Catholicism, Irish culture and political nationalism.”

    The ‘Brits Out’ Stepping Stones Peace Process was devised by Redemptorists and promoted as likely to be more successful than the Provisional Republican Movement one. Ironically, the PRM appears to have supplanted the Catholic Church as the dominant force in this ‘society within a society’ and the ‘constitutional question’ will ensure that separation between the ‘tribes’ is likely to continue.

    The Protestant churches are no more enthusiastic about integration than the Catholic one; they’re also quite happy to sit back and let the Catholic Church take the flak.

  • “If by some remote chance the Assembly abolished religious education tomorrow, the courts would not let it stand.”

    On what basis?

  • Cynic

    HRA would prevent it

    But …..that isn’t the same thing as integrating schooling. Integrated schooling where there was access to RE classes for those who wish t may be legal

  • slug

    The Church [as it likes to think of itself] is digging itself a hole.

  • slug

    Shameful for the Catholic church head to describe people who might disagree with him as “rabble”. Says a lot.

  • slug

    DUP = progressive

    The Church = reactionary.

  • slug

    And indeed, that is the very message the DUP are now putting out, in quite considerable style. This today from their Education Spokesperson:

    “”” “The weekend comments of the First Minister concerning the future of education in our Province were forward-looking and incisive. The comments of his detractors were backward-looking and predictable. The First Minister rightly noted that people would find it appalling and immoral if we educated children separately on the basis of their race, yet we choose to maintain and fund a system which educates children separately on the basis of their religion.

    ” Just as in South Africa, where the vested interests opposed the dismantling of the system of apartheid: it is disappointing to see certain vested interests in Northern Ireland rushing to defend the religious apartheid that exists in education. Clearly some people fear a loss of power and control.”

    ” People in Northern Ireland are looking to the future. There is more integration and co-operation across our communities than at any time in the past. Old models which kept us apart and which separated children from contact with each other are destined for the dustbin. The First Minister rightly noted that the concept of shared education goes way beyond that provided by the integrated sector presently. Education should, whilst taking account of people’s differing backgrounds, be free from any overt political or cultural agenda.”

    ” Change is coming to Northern Ireland and we all need to adapt. The DUP is in the vanguard of bringing real and meaningful change to Northern Ireland and creating an education system which serves all of our children well. The First Minister’s speech showed that.”

    ” Producing well-educated young people who can take their place in a peaceful and prosperous society is our aim. It is more important than any stale out-of-date structures. Those who defend the status quo are seeking to justify entrenched educational apartheid for no good reason other than a refusal on their part to relinquish power over young people.”””

  • slug

    This should be linked to the bringing down of the peace walls.

  • Granni Trixie

    Even as far back as the beginning of ‘the troubles’ “mixed schooling” (as it was called then) was looked to as part of the “solution”, by notables such as Terenced O’Neill for instance. The same rationale is well rehearsed today.

    Whilst ed. research shows that the home is more influential than the school, the school is ofcourse influential too.
    But I think that the culture in a school is a touchstone for if a school is welcoming to all or not. A clear example I can give is: in 1989-90 I participated in an EMU inspired artistic public performance with 2 Belfast Schools. The Protestant school was indeed “open to all” and had some (middle class) Catholics attending. But as we got to know each other one pupil told me (a) he had never heard a name such as “Mairead” before and (b) as he got to know us (Catholics) he started to read the Irish News in the sixth form commonroom and was slagged off for doing so. Sensible (confident) lad, he laughed this off but if he was of a nationalist/republican background he might have felt
    threatened or undervalued. In “mixing” therefore you have to have the mix reflected in the culture of the school.

    Personally I would be all for putting “mixed schools” as the default position – the current overabundance of infrastructure and emphasis on economic cost can be an opportunity to re-jig the whole system. Also, as integrated schools have learnt much about diversity over the years, they are a resource in these changes.

    I welcome Peter Robinson in stimulating the debate and noticed that other DUP people are on message.
    Could it be that Robinson’s apparent change of heart is a DUP strategy to appeal to disaffected UUP voters?

    BTW, disappointing that in the usual suspects with vested interests coming out to bat for Catholic education,are introducing abortion into the mix (eg “many Protestants agree with us about abortion”). Another hornets nest.

  • iluvni

    Seems to me the real reason the apartheid education continues to be favoured by the church and the representatives of Nationalist opinion, is that educating the children together is simply not in the interests of their political ideals. They’d prefer to continue to undermine the chances of a successful Northern Ireland despite their lipservice to shared future ideals, and if the children are to be used as pawns, so be it.

  • slug

    That is a very interesting argument – I will not comment on it.

    However, by forcing opponents to react, and they have done so in a very reactionary manner, Peter Robinson has played a political masterstroke.

  • Ulick

    Let’s for a second suspend reality and pretend this was a goer.

    If so, and considering that over 50% of children in the north are educated at CCMS schools, where exactly would these 163,371 students fit into the existing “state” system? Is someone going to build another 533 schools or will we just pay the Catholic Church a few £billion or so to take over their estate? Will the state also take up the slack on voluntary contributions to the CCMS schools made by the various Catholic parishes?

  • Ulick

    “education continues to be favoured by the church and the representatives of Nationalist opinion, is that educating the children together is simply not in the interests of their political ideals.”

    So it seems you are all for integrated/shared education so long as it comes with the existing “Northern Irish”/”British” ethos? So how exactly does that attitude differ from that of those you criticise above?

  • slug

    “over 50% of children in the north are educated at CCMS schools”

    Not true.

  • barnshee

    “where exactly would these 163,371 students fit into the existing “state” system?”
    Ther are too many schools for the number of pupils -the surplus at Primary level is orking its way through to secondary.. Less money will be available from London

    Schools should look at the numbers and amalgamate to recogniset his reality The schools would be required to offer ALL sports including GAA and Irish language study etc

    Attendance at Religious instruction would be voluntary with each religious grouping invited to meet the demands of the school

    Schools should focus on academic excellence


    Do it the french way

    Schools are academic only

    Religion a private matter
    Sport nothing to do wth us mate

    (Teaching is a high status profession in France might be a lesson there)

  • Dec


    I see you are just the latest Unionist to imply that all children are, by nature, British unionists.
    Has it occured to you that introducing thousands of Nationalists, the GAA and the Irish language to the state system might promote a degree of Nationlist sentiment where previously there was none?

  • Brian Walker

    What are so many of you afraid of? Think of integration that way for a moment.

    Ulick and others, Much is made about voluntary contributions to Catholic schools, as if this rules out integration. But turn the familiar negative into a positive.These contributions are made the world over in state systems including GB. But they’re dwarfed by State contributions paid for by all tax and ratepayers

    Integration can only be a voluntary process, remember. A concordat would recognise that reality and should allow matching funding in my opinion not just contributions.

    Any suggestion of a Prod takeover of Catholic schooling is of course nonsense. This hardly needs stressing. It also means Catholic teachers for Protestant children. Fancy that!

    Some comment is far too rigid about the culture. Chill!! Thousands are in mixed schooling already,as Trix points out.

    I don’t want to deter people saying what they like ( fat chance) but this post is more about HOW to reach an integration plan Any positive or amending comments?

  • iluvni

    I have implied nothing of the sort.
    As for introducing children with a nationalist background to the same schools as all the other children, and developing a syllabus where they can all learn about each others background…fuck me, whats wrong with that?
    Thats what Northern ireland needs.
    Thats what scares the vested interests.

  • slug

    Well said.

  • slug

    “It also means Catholic teachers for Protestant children.”

    People in state schools already have catholic teachers. At least I did.

  • Brian Walker


    Legal challenge may be possible under Art 9 of ECHR
    via the HRA:
    “the freedom to change a religion or belief, and to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are “in accordance with law” and “necessary in a democratic society”
    Just for starters. And I’m sure those devilish clever Catholic lawyers could think up lots more…based on the fact of 80 years at least of segregated education.

  • fin

    What happens if this commission on education doesn’t produce what the DUP want will it just be dropped like the one into parades?

  • Ulick

    Really well what are your figures?

    I’m using the Department of Education figures which say CCMS schools look after 163k students which is 51% of the school population:


  • Alias

    You might not have noticed but those that you assume will make the decision on your behalf – the leaders of the two catholic political parties – have already received their direction from those who will actually make that decision on your behalf – the British state – and accordingly all the viceroy’s ducks are in line.

    The present reality, however, is that there is not even one secular school in the whole of the UK.

  • Anon

    A mastersroke at solidly uniting Nationalist opinion? I know mass attendance isn’t what it was, but I’ve sat through three sermons on the iportance of Catholic education on the last six months.

    A huge majority of Catholics have been through Catholic schooling. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d guess the majority liked and are attached to them. Perhaps the kids are in said schools. How this is seen as anything other than having a pop I don’t know.

  • Anon

    Bah that should be to iluvni above.


    All for as many voluntary systems of conversion as you like. Happy to see supply to expand to take demand. There shouldn’t be any financial incentivses, of course, that’d be unfair.

    Also largely against messing up a complex system. None of this “everyone must apply to the ESA” nonsense. That isn’t parental choice. It is governemnt choice. Draw a line on funding and close or defund any below it. Apply whatever competition, expansion, local agreement or innovation to the close cachement areas. Leave the rest well alone. If you’ve set up an “integration” (whatever it is) process, then if it popular it will organically expand.

  • Not sure about Robbo but I’m still waiting for an SDLP politician to say something visionary after more than 26 years.

  • If we’re moving to one system why not simply let the system with the most children become the norm – let all the schools become Catholic schools and all the children can be educated together.

  • wild turkey

    nice one chris

    well i was going to reply with the words of JP McEnroe


    but on reflection you may, unintentionally, have a point.

    The 2006 Bain report; Schools for the Future: Funding Strategy Sharing called for far greater collaboration amongst schools. This collaboration might involve pupils taking different classes at different schools. To wit, students might be moved about.


    in so far as it is well documented that the Catholic Church has a long pedigree in moving priests about when necessary, are you suggesting that this unique expertise be deployed for the benefit of,uh, children?

  • If it’s about saving money and having all kids at the same schools and it’s not simply traditional anti-Catholic sentiment as expressed in the last post from Wild Turkey then who can object. Why give a monopoly on education to the State(let) and not to the Church?

    While we’re at it we should collectivise industry to avoid distinctions, end freedom of association because different religions might, State forbid, want to stick together and we should probably make everyone wear a common uniform. Oh and one political party because anything else would be sectarian and a form of apartheit.

    We could print these little ideas up and put them in a little book, maybe a red one.

  • Which part of HRA?

  • slug

    I get 46%.

  • slug

    “We are a deeply divided people”

  • Rory Carr

    Failed TUV candidate and erstwhile blogger to reactionaries everywhere, David Vance, chides another politician for her party’s failure to produce a visionary speaker.

    I am trying to conjure up a suitable headline for this remarkable event:

    Wolfman criticises Red Riding Hood’s care of elderly !

    might best approximate .

  • Seymour Major

    Even if it is not possible to enforce integration on the Churches, this initiative opens up the possibility of putting them under pressure to change their approach to sectarianism.

    BW, your suggestions are an excellent starting point.

    However, I am wondering if the next generation would be so likely to latch on to a sectarian mindset just because of their education.

    My children have all attended Catholic Grammar Schools. One of them, St. Michael’s College in Enniskillen, has an excellent reputation for building cross-community contact with other schools through sport, music and drama. The result is that many of the children have made friendships with their peers from other schools in the Town. That sectarian divide is not quite what is used to be in Enniskillen.

    Tonight, as I write, my youngest son is performing in the show ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ – a show including girls from the Collegiate Grammar School (Protestant). The show is a sell out (St. Michael’s productions always are) and children from all the schools in Enniskillen get to see a matinee performance of the show during the daytime while parents and famlies from both communities get to see the show in the evenings this week.

    I dont want rain on anybody’s parade. I applaud the initiative. I would, however, not like to see this school taken away or have its funds cut off just because there is a national problem of sectarianism.

    There needs to be a balanced approach. Yes, perhaps there should be more integrated schools but perhaps also, schools which make this kind of effort at bridge-building should not be penalised. Rather, they should be regarded as models for more cross community initiatives in schools.

  • Ulick

    Care to elaborate – on what figures?

  • Coll Ciotach

    If all these integrated schools are so great why not set them up and the people will support them – oops – been done and they don’t.

  • Ulick

    Maybe you missed my point. No one denies there are surplus desks in state schools but nowhere near 160k places. Who is going to pay for all these extra places, that’s assuming the very likely scenario that the Catholic Church is not going to gift you its existing school estate.

  • slug

    On the figures you linked to.

  • Ulick

    I linked to a lot of figures, which are you using and why so evasive?

  • slug

    Enrolments by school management type>Pupils by school type and management type, 2009/10>

    (Catholic Maintained+Schools under Catholic Management)/Grand Total = 46%.

  • Diomedes

    Ulick did you get your figure of 161,371 from this document


    If so then that is the figure for the total number of catholic schoolchildren not the number of of pupils in ccms

  • barnshee

    “Who is going to pay for all these extra places”

    1 There are surplus desks in a lot of places

    2 A lot of the existing “state” schools hold assets in land and buildings previously provided by church and “private” donations

    3 There are no “extra” places needed

    This is a dispute about how to reduce the current desk count and how we pay for the surviving desks.

    It is, further, NOT a dispute about religion. The R Catholic community wishes to promote and maintain a school system which promotes IRISH -Language -culture -republicanism etc. That is their right the only argument is about who should pay for it.
    Currently its the English taxpayer She?he is currently sending out signals that he/she aint gonna pay no more.

    Schools should look at the numbers and amalgamate to recogniset his reality The schools would be required to offer ALL sports including GAA and Irish language study etc

    Attendance at Religious instruction would be voluntary with each religious grouping invited to meet the demands of the school

    Schools should focus on academic excellence

  • barnshee

    It also means Protestant teachers for catholic schools

  • Driftwood

    catholic schools :

    Anathema to education.

    So are the Free P ones, but the taxpayer doesn’t have to pay for them.

    I’ve heard not one bit of criticism from Catholic, Prod, Atheist or Flying Spaghetti monster advocate toward the FE Colleges. Why not follow their model? Just pure education. Simples.

  • ulsterfan49@googlemail.com

    The Catholic Church in Ireland is in no position to dictate the future of Education North or South
    We are only starting to deal with the consequences of child abuse which occurred within the Church.
    In Boston USA the Diocese was brought to the brink of bankruptcy.
    The same will happen in Ireland. Faced with huge amounts of compensation to be paid, and the British tax payer in NI will not pick up the bill, the Church will meekly hand over their control/ownership of schools..

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Anathema to education.”

    Right. As opposed to taking a communion host and descrating it, thereby affording each and every Catholic a reason to not want to attend his biology class at the University of Minnesota at Nowheresville. Ditto his descration of the Quran. That’s some advancement in education. Lastly, I’ll be waiting for PZ to burn the Torah. Of course, he never will, as that would make entirely plain the company that he keeps, as none of us could fail to recall who last burnt the Torah.

  • wild turkey

    “traditional anti-Catholic sentiment as expressed in the last post from Wild Turkey”

    where to start chris?
    actually i am a catholic and a very very traditional one at that. however, i am not an roman irish catholic. given your proclivity for uniformed states, this nuance might escape you.

    your remarks are similar to those who respond to criticisms of the practices and policies of the state of israel by branding those crtics as ,uh, anti-semitic.

    doesn’t it get tedious after awhile? oops, apologies, i am conversing with a true believer.

  • PACE Parent

    Once again Brian Walker pops up with his coursework on education matters seemingly prepared by others. Entitlement Framework, Area Based Planning, ESA (have you checked out Gavin Boyd’s salary?) Collegiates and attempts to undermine academic selection. This intervention on foot of Robinson’s gauntlet seems as if it came straight from the Minister’s desk. Say it ain’t so Brian.

  • Granni Trixie

    My understanding is that growth towards a critical mass in integrated education is curtailed by lack of infrastructure – current integrated schools are oversubscribed. In a context where the schools estate is undersubscribed by pupils, this seems a perfect opportunity to push on with shared schooling.

  • “Problems over the curriculum are exaggerated. It works well already”

    A young friend was doing her GCSEs in Ballycastle in the mid-90s – Ballycastle has two comprehensives, one state, one Catholic; the nearest grammar schools/FE colleges are 15 to 20 miles away.

    When I went in search of some NI RE papers I discovered that the two schools I was in touch with both did London board papers, one Catholic, the other Evangelical Protestant. So much for a shared curriculum.

  • slappymcgroundout

    “Seems to me the real reason the apartheid education continues to be favoured by the church and the representatives of Nationalist opinion, is that educating the children together is simply not in the interests of their political ideals.”

    December 1999 – By a margin of nine to one, Americans believe parents should have the right to choose their child’s school, according to a report released last month by Public Agenda, a research organization based in New York City. Moreover, if they were given a choice of schools– along with the financial wherewithal to exercise it– a full 55 percent of parents who currently send their children to public schools would want to send them to private schools.
    One of the poll’s findings is that people who have private schools in their communities believe by wide margins that such schools “generally provide a better education” than public schools and do a better job “teaching academic skills” and “maintaining discipline and order.” (For 67 percent of respondents, the term “private schools” refers to “parochial schools or Christian academies,” while for 16 percent it refers to “nonreligious private schools.”)

    Lastly, have you considered the notion that Catholics send their children to Catholic schools so that they might be instructed in Catholic values? There is simply no education that is value free.

    Now back to the horribly misinformed, by way of adding to my prior remarks:

    “Anathema to education.”

    My high school:

    Loyola’s curricular requirements cover a breadth of academic topics. Four years each of Social studies, English studies and Mathematics courses are required, along with three years of Foreign language study and of Science, as well as one year of Fine art are required. Six semesters of Theology are also a central part of the curriculum, covering Scripture, systematic theology, Catholic social thought, moral theology and one senior elective. … Over 99% of Loyola graduates go on to higher education, with 96% attending 4-year universities.

    See that three years of science? That would be biology and chemistry, and then either geology or physics. I took physics. The four years of math was algebra, geometry, alegbra2-trigonometry and calculus. How’s that for anathema to education?

    Oh, and I forget to mention that Loyola used to be part of and on the same campus as Loyola Marymount University. So owing to that connection of old, one was able to take courses in the senior year for college credit through LMU. So when I graduated high school I already had 8 credit hours courtesy of LMU. And don’t think AP or advancement placement here, since there was no test to take that determined whether you got credit or not. There were simply the regular midterms and final exam that you’d have in any college class.

    The graduation requirements of the local public high school:

    30 credits (3 Years) World History AB U.S. History AB Principles American Democracy/ Economics
    40 credits (4 years) English 9 English 10 American Literature/ Contemporary Composition (12th grade) Composition/ English elective Courses
    20 credits (2 years)
    20 credits (2 years)
    10 credits 2 semesters arts classes
    10 credits 2 semesters technology classes
    5 credits (1 semester)
    5 credits (1 semester)
    20 credits (2 years) 4 semesters of PE, athletics, team sports or dance.
    ELECTIVES 70 credits Additional courses in Social Studies, English, Math, Science, Foreign Language, Visual & Performing Arts, and Applied Technology

    So you can take them if you want, or your parents make you, but you might be short a year of science and two years of mathematics. And we might as well have some theology and morals in lieu of PE since we either played sports or chased girls after school, and both of those are energetic endeavors, so it wasn’t like we weren’t in shape.

    Now back to the one other soul, a statement re the Catholic values that some might want instilled in their children:

    Since the 1970s Loyola students have performed over one million hours of service to the community. As part of its commitment to educating men for and with others, Loyola students participate in four major service oriented projects during their high school careers. The freshman serve as tutors on the Loyola campus for the award winning High School Placement Test Prep Projects for 8th (October – January) and 7th graders (February – April), as well as assist with the Special Olympics. The second and third service projects include minimum 25-hour service projects during each of the sophomore and junior years. The Senior Service Project is a minimum 85-hour immersion commitment to a non-profit service organization during the month of January during the senior year. Inner city grade schools, special education schools, hospitals, hospices, shelters and soup kitchens are preferred sites for this service experience. Now in its 29th year, the Senior Service Project was featured in “Making A Difference” as part of the NBC National News hosted by Brian Williams on March 11, 2010. The film clip is accessible on the Loyola and NBC websites. Loyola students’ community service has been regularly featured on the local news programs of the ABC affiliate, Channel 7, including Kool Kids and a fundraising car wash conducted on behalf of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the gang member reformation program founded by Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, a Loyola graduate and former faculty member.

    Starting in June 2007, Loyola began an out-of-area hands-on service program with a two-week service immersion in New Orleans. The 2008 program took Loyola students to Appalachia, focused in Wheeling and Charleston, West Virginia. In July 2008 Loyola launched its foreign service immersion in Puebla and Cholula, Mexico. In June 2009, Loyola launched a five week, academic exchange and service immersion with Colegio Del Salvador, the Jesuit high school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The 2009 summer service immersion program included student, faculty and staff service teams in New Orleans/Slidell, Louisiana in mid June and another student, staff, alumni and parent service team to Lima and Cusco, Peru in late July and early August. The 2010 service immersion program includes one that is agriculturally based in the Salinas Valley in Northern California and an extended urban immersion in Los Angeles both conducted in mid June. As well in 2010, for a second time, Loyola will conduct a six-week Argentina Intercambio program based in Buenos Aires, has been expanded to include nine days in metropolitan Montevideo, Uruguay. The Intercambio is conducted in conjunction with the Jesuit colegios in Buenos Aires and Santa Fe in Argentina and in Montevideo, Uruguay. An overview of the summer service immersion program may be found in the July 31 edition of the “Los Angeles Tidings”, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

    Overall, each Loyola student completes a minimum of 150 hours of direct service by graduation with many of them matriculating with between 250 – 300 hours. Non credit service activities include the annual Community Service Fair conducted each September, the Community Service Leadership Team, the annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles, the Peace and Justice Coalition, the annual School of the America’s Watch and Ignatian Teach In conducted just before Thanksgiving, Catholic Lobby Day in Sacramento, California, an annual social justice speakers series, and ongoing collection of food, clothing, books and toys for distribution to the needy served by some of the school’s 1,000 placement partners. Service and justice are two significant factors considered in making the most of the “Big Seven” awards for graduating seniors each June. Outstanding service leadership is recognized at the annual student awards ceremony and the Annual Community Service Awards Banquet held each May.

    And why would we do such a thing? The school’s motto: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (for those a little short on their Latin, For the greater glory of God). As you can imagine, I’m not so young that I got to go to Buenos Aires or Montevideo (damn timing of my birth), so I served at a few soup kitchens and also, well, I still have today, as cherished possessions, the certificates of appreciation that I received from what was then called the United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children’s Foundation.

    In words, the good news here is that you and not me are stuck with Robbo and Gregory Campbell, to name just two. I rather doubt that the DUP is any way, shape, or form qualified to speak to the matter of “apartheid”. Nor do I think for a moment that they are in any sense and respect genuine in such regard. You might try reading the DUP’s own manifesto:

    Culture is an essential part of the mix that affirms who we are. The preservation,development and promotion of our rich culture both within Northern Ireland as a region within the United Kingdom and nationally across the United Kingdom is the determined goal of the Democratic Unionist Party.

    The DUP has worked to promote and develop the roles of the Loyal Orders,marching bands and Ulster-Scots heritage.The DUP has ensured:

    there will be no Irish Language Act,
    Stormont providing greater funding for the Twelfth and other Orange activities,
    reform of the Community Festivals Fund with money being taken from republican festivals and redirected to Orange events,
    secured £1million benefiting 40 Orange Halls,

    and last on that list, after they’ve trashed Gaelic, provided for sectarian bonfires and triumphalist parades that celebrate their victory and the other’s defeat, taken funds earmarked for the other for their own use, and securing a cool 1 mil pounds for their version of the KKK, we have:

    working for equality between Irish and Ulster-Scots culture.

    Which translated means, we’re the oppressed. And it frankly doesn’t get anymore god-damned Orwellian than that. And read it again, our culture, and not their culture. That’s a party of apartheid. As I said, I don’t think for a moment that they’re sincere.

  • “efficiency savings”

    Let’s look at the small village of Armoy. There are two small schools. one state, one Catholic:

    Armoy PS: T 3.5, P 51, PTR 14.6
    St Olcan’s PS: T 3.0, P 50, PTR 16.7

    The Primary School PTR in Portrush is about 20 so 5 teachers would be sufficient for an Armoy combined school. There would be less doubling/tripling up of year groups and there should be a larger skills range across the teaching staff.

    Even if parents were agreeable it’s unlikely that the vested interests would listen.

  • Brian Walker

    Pace parent
    It aint so. Every word out of my own head as always without talking to anyone. Why should it be otherwise? I doubt if the bureaucrats would welcome parental choice for governance and the dismantling of their own model at this stage. As ever, conspiracy theories confuse the mind.

    Nevin, you sound keen…

  • Brian Walker

    slappy- an impressive if very long account of Loyala’s public service and Catholic ethos.set in a US context. It isn’t necessry to defend Catholic education.

    Then you come down with a bump to our parish pump. Robinson’s critics appear to be seizing gratefully on the negative to resist the positive parts of his speech – almost as if he had the power to turn off the tap of public money to Catholic schools even if he wanted to. This high state of nervousness isn’t warranted- even if Peter left himself open to precisely this criticism.

    Instead of megaphone politics they should get down to exploring the actual idea of integration – along the lines I’ve offered, or something else.

    One basic question, now that powersharing awards both sides rough parity in government: why is it necessary to sustain a semi-separate Catholic school public sector of this size, now that Catholics/Nationalists have an equal share in devising and running the school system?

    Would it not be a good idea to ask the public if they would welcome a bigger integrated – or mixed – sector?.

  • fin

    Guessing the ‘.5’ is a part-time teacher, so through increasing class sizes it will save one teachers salary, who may well become unemployed and stop been a taxpayer and become a someone on benefits.

    Guessing if St Olcans is a Catholic school, the building and site belongs to the Church so the new school needs to be at Armoy, does Armoy currently have the facilities to take an extra 50 pupils or does the school need to be rebuilt? possible to use prefabs I suppose.

    Is it fair to say that in say 5-15 years the system will start to save 1 teachers salary per annum, which is what approx £30k

    Hardly a winning arguement, in addition it also removes competition, having only one school means it only needs to show up to do its job, whereas having 2 schools means each school looks over its shoulder to see what the other is achieving.

    Personally I’d say thats a hard sell to parents and I’d hate to be the local councillor or MP who gave the go ahead to increas class sizes, stick kids in prefabs and in 10 years we’ll be saving 30 grand, oh and we also make a teacher unemployed.

    Good luck with that one

  • Barnshee

    Er 100 pupils @20 per teacher =5 Teachers
    Saving 1.5 posts

    Saving one head teacher -probably £50,000
    say .5 teacher £20000
    Saving so far £70,000

    Overheads saves (heat cleaning ) insure etc) at least another £20000

    Building freed up for disposal even at today`s depressed prices £100,000 + return to Dept of Education or Catholic church in proportion to grants received

    Total funds saved £90,000 pa

    With a modest increase to 25P/PT a further saving of 30/35K is possible (Teacher costs are not just salary)
    So we have an ANNUAL saving of £90,000 plus a cah injection of £100,000 + available

    If the bean counters were in charge

  • Jj

    John Hume, 1974

    “Ireland is not a romantic dream, it is not a flag, it is not just a piece of earth.

    It is four and a half million people divided into two traditions and its problems can only be solved, if the solution is to be lasting and permanent, not on the basis of victory for either, but on the basis of agreement and partnership between both.

    The real division in Ireland is not a line on a map but is in the minds and hearts of its people.”

    I’ve never heard Vance or any of those he folowed say anything remotely as visionary, positive or helpful. Stick to your pointless blogging and stay out of real politics.

  • fin, I’ve googled the two sites and it looks as if Armoy PS would be the better site for a combined school; it probably has a capacity of 100 anyway and seems in good repair.

    Should the numbers continue to fall it’s quite possible that both schools could be closed and the children bussed elsewhere.

    I’ve also had a quick look at Portstewart. There is a Catholic and a state school in different parts of the two. Both have intakes of well over 100 so each of them could become a combined school.

  • Barnshee, fin is having problems with his sums 😉

  • fin

    While back in the real world, 50k for a Head Teacher in a 3 class primary, don’t know the grading at primary but thats U4 or U5 at secondary, a head of department with 6-10 teachers wouldn’t earn that, same for 20k for the .5. dunno where you guys are getting your figures from but it sounds like teachers in NI earn 25% more than on the ‘mainland’

    going from 6 classrooms to 5 saves 20k in heating, insurance and cleaning, wow

    who owns the other school if its the Catholic Church you can’t just take it from them (those days are gone.

    Don’t understand Nevin, do the classrooms exist or not, google councils for building schools for the future to get an idea on costs, my local primary was £8m, others locally was 4-5million

    And finally, gosh why not just have one class of 100 kids and just have a headmaster, save a fortune, even better, teach them in a carpark and sell the schools off, even more money, oh, ship the kids of to india to be taught even cheaper, gosh, Nevin, surely its only a matter of time before you get a call from Osborne to come oon board at the treasury (if MI5 don’t get you first to help with uncovering all those fenian plots)

  • Now you’re just being silly, fin 🙂

  • Séamus Rua

    Gaelscéal reporting that the DUP plan to stop all funding to Gaelscoileanna …


    Ráidió na Gaeltachta following up on it …


    Doiminic Ó Brollacháin (Bradley), SDLP on air defending the principle of integration in the long term but attacking Robinsion – electionering is what he accused Robinson off.

  • Anon

    Because the Catholic schools are generally quite good, the Catholic populace has history with them and is quite fond of them, not to mention they are intimately woven with Catholic religious teaching, they give added value at no cost to the taxpayer and plurality in the system is a good thing that many other places are striving for . Robinson was a classic dog whistle – note the I won’t by cowed by the Church comments.

    I don’t think there is a person here who would say that integrated education shouldn’t be available to fill demand, or that some of the duplication that cannot be sustained any longer should be cut. That is an entirely different prospect from what is being outlined.

    If there is one issue I would have sympathy with, it’s on access. Catholics , particularly, in urban areas can pick and choose their sectors. Protestants probably have less choice in picking a Maintained school. I’d be happy to support reforms whereby this could be made easier, though basically you’d need to accept the overarching Catholic ethos.