News story

Villiers signals fresh start for integrated education in Northern Ireland

Shared and Integrated education in Northern Ireland are set to benefit from the release of the first tranche of half a billion pounds of dedicated UK government funding allocated under the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements

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Earlier today, Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland announced a  list of projects which would receive an immediate cash boost of around £43m.  This cash will fund the construction of shared education campuses at Limavady, Moy and Ballycastle and integrated school projects at Braidside, Drumlins and Roe Valley.   Funding will also allow an additional 17 shared and integrated school proposals to advance to planning, including the second tranche of the Executive’s shared campus programme which will see development of shared campuses in the Brookeborough and Toomebridge areas.  

Today’s announcement comes four months after the Fresh Start agreement and follows intensive work between the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Education. Existing shared education campus and integrated school projects will be accelerated with more places made available and improvements to accommodation and facilities.

The money is the first to be released from the Fresh Start allocation of up to £50 million a year for ten years, and is designed to unblock through investment in education and early years nursery provision one of the most persistent obstacles towards a shared future for Northern Ireland’s communities.

Welcoming the first release of the Fresh Start money, the Secretary of State said:

Education shapes individuals and societies and this funding is a fresh demonstration of the commitment of the UK government, working alongside the Executive, to build the foundations of a genuinely shared future for all parts of the community in Northern Ireland.

Many of the schools which will benefit from this money are over-subscribed and wish to refurbish buildings and improve facilities. Today’s announcement means the Stormont House and Fresh Start financial package will support progress straight away and also paves the way for sustained funding over the next decade.

Anyone thinking of sending their children to an integrated school should be reassured that this is just the beginning of a substantial investment programme. Existing schools will be strengthened and new schools created, ultimately benefiting not just the pupils that attend them but the whole of Northern Ireland.

Executive Ministers also welcomed today’s announcement.   

First Minister Arlene Foster said:

Today’s announcement worth £500million over 10 years, marks another step forward on the road to building a better Northern Ireland as envisaged in the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements. This significant financial package, allows us to move ahead at pace to deliver more shared schools right across Northern Ireland.

I welcome that as a result of this funding, thousands of children throughout Northern Ireland will benefit from excellent new facilities providing a new learning experience in an environment that will encourage respect for all.

I particularly look forward to visiting the new shared campus in Brookeborough in my home county of Fermanagh. I know that everyone involved in that project has waited a long time to hear this fantastic news today. I wish all of the schools set to benefit from this good news well as they move forward with their plans.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said:

Creating a better future for all of our people is at the heart of the Fresh Start Agreement and today’s announcement will see that future realised in communities across the north of Ireland. 

By securing this investment programme for the Executive, our schools estate and thousands of children and young people will now reap the shared benefits in the coming months and years ahead.

Minister of Education John O’Dowd said:

Schools are the heart of communities and I am delighted that as result of today’s announcement many more communities will see the tangible outworkings of political progress.  The completion of these projects will see an additional 3000 pupils being educated together in shared campus schools and enable increases in enrolment at integrated schools of over 1400 pupils. 

I know that for many of these schools today’s announcement has been long awaited.  They can now move ahead to plan for the future, creating state of the art facilities that will enhance the education of many young people well into the future.

Note for Editors

The following projects will be provided with additional help to further develop their proposals following today’s announcement.  Funding for the construction of these and other projects will be awarded in line with existing processes and following the necessary approvals.  In addition, following a Department of Education review of the planning, growth and development of integrated education, expected to report in the summer, additional projects may be considered. 

Shared Campuses

  • Brookeborough Shared Education Campus – St Mary’s PS, Brookeborough and Brookeborough P S, Brookeborough,
  • Partners in Learning Shared Education Campus – Duneane PS, Toombridge and Moneynick PS, Randalstown

Integrated Primary Schools

  • Enniskillen IPS, Enniskillen
  • Forge IPS, Belfast
  • Millennium IPS, Carryduff
  • Rowandale IPS, Moira
  • Millstrand IPS, Portstewart
  • Phoenix IPS, Cooktown
  • Bangor CIPS, Bangor
  • Forthill CIPS, Lisburn

Integrated Post Primary Schools

  • New-Bridge Integrated College, Loughbrickland
  • Priory College, Holywood
  • Shimna College, Newcastle
  • Ulidia College, Carrickfergus
  • Strangford College, Strangford
  • Forthill CIC, Lisburn
  • North Coast IC, Coleraine
Published 23 March 2016