The One School of Thought Campaign has sent an open letter to our MLAs calling on them to reform education here. The group is pro integration: they call on the Education Minister to:
To establish a Commission in this Assembly term. This Commission should be charged with:
• Bringing forward recommendations to resolve all the outstanding issues in education;
• Ensuring that these recommendations shape a system fit for the 21st Century in which all children learn and are taught together in their local area.
In addition they call for the minister:
• To establish an area based planning framework that includes local people as well as other educational stakeholders to plan education on the basis of demand and demonstrable need;
• To ensure that all schools and communities are actively supported in developing local solutions which encourage meaningful sharing between and within schools;
• To remove any impediments, legislative or procedural, that would hinder greater sharing in education.
The letter is signed by a wide variety of people including actress Joanna Lumley, ex political candidate Trevor Ringland, businessman Diljit Rana and comedian Tim McGarry. An Anthony McIntyre is also included though it not clear if it is the well known blogger and IRA murderer of that name as it is spelt differently. In addition assorted organisations such as the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, the Institute of Directors and Cooperation Ireland amongst others have signed the letter.
It is unclear to what extent the campaign associates itself with Peter Robinson’s calls for integrated education though there seem to be significant areas of agreement. Nor does the campaign comment directly on the issue of selective education where its views may be different.
Whether John O’Dowd will support the campaign’s aims is far from clear. O’Dowd has previously attacked Peter Robinson’s call for integrated education though he has stated: “The principle of children going to school together, no-one can argue against.”