Aontú education spokesperson and Representative Gemma Brolly has reacted to the announcement of a 1.9-million-pound investment to encourage schools to transition to an integrated model.
Brolly said “Just last week we learned of the exclusion of two of the main education sector bodies from a NIO conference on the topic of inclusion and the future of NI. This essentially denies input from approximately 450 Catholic controlled schools managed by CCMS and some 450 controlled schools managed by CSSC.”
“Now the most recent revelations of former Secretary of State Brandon Lewis reveal what can only be viewed as bias and complete disregard for the current emergency crisis within our education system.”
“Aontú have continuously supported Integrated Education as parental choice but have also highlighted the intent of the Integrated Education Bill – to prioritise funding, with Integrated Education top of the pecking order. Parties, representatives and governing bodies denied this again and again, however the Secretary of State confirmed yesterday what Aontú have highlighting all along.”
Lewis stated, “Seeing greater integration of education across Northern Ireland is an absolute priority for me,” he continued “hope is that integration will soon become the norm and not the exception.” Lewis also spoke about how Integrated education would result in “parents getting to know each other and long-term friendships develop.”
Brolly commented “He speaks as if the adults of the North do not have the ability to converse and form friendships themselves. Integrated Education should be fully and equally supported with all other sectors of education, of that there is no doubt. The efforts of the Secretary of State and supporters of the Integrated Education Bill, however, have now today been confirmed, with intent to prioritise Integrated Education above all others.”
Brolly concludes “With undervalued staff on the brink of strike, underpay, endless damming reports, waiting lists and under resourced schools, surely the priority of the Secretary of State, every governing body and representative should be to repair our education system in its entirety? That is what we in Aontú will prioritise in education. We need inclusive and beneficial education for all. That is what we have worked for and what we will continue to work to achieve.”