From shared schools to shared space: integrated education initiatives in Northern Ireland in comparative perspective

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Political parties and the general public in Northern Ireland usually agree that community relations could be improved by more widespread provision of ‘integrated education’ in the region (Lucid Talk, 2014). Integrated schools in Northern Ireland involve children from both the Catholic/nationalist and Protestant/unionist communities being educated together in the same classroom. Currently, most children from a Catholic/nationalist background attend Catholic schools, whilst the majority of their Protestant/unionist counterparts attend state schools. This article compares the policy on integrated education pursued by the first power-sharing executive (1973–74) with those of the current executive. The evidence suggests that there has been a drift away from integrated to shared education models, where the only true sharing taking place is of the facilities and infrastructure (DOE, 2013). The latter kind of school is much less likely to lead to the promotion, at an early age, of tolerance and mutual understanding between the region’s two main communities. The evidence therefore suggests that the first power-sharing executive, during a more difficult security climate, had a considerably more ambitious integrated education policy than its contemporary counterpart, ostensibly operating in a post-conflict context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-14
Number of pages12
JournalIdentity papers: A journal of British and Irish studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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