A review of existing methods used to assess demand for integrated education in Northern Ireland

Erin Early, Paula Devine, Minchen Liu, Dirk Schubotz

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The education system in Northern Ireland (NI) is complex with the diversity of management structures reflecting religious affiliation and academic selection. Within the system, integrated education provides a mechanism to promote reconciliation among divided communities. Integrated education has been aided by legislation—most recently, the Integrated Education Act (NI) 2022, which places responsibility on the Department of Education and the Education Authority to encourage, facilitate and support integrated education. However, there is no standardised or agreed operational methodology on assessing demand for this. This study aims to examine the current approaches to assessing demand for integrated education in NI by collating existing evidence from key stakeholders and reviewing academic literature. Publicly available information was synthesised from the websites of key stakeholders, and a rapid literature review was conducted to identify methods used in NI and internationally to ascertain demand for education provision. The literature review returned limited results, and the review of key stakeholders' websites illustrated that although existing methods used in NI monitor support in principle for integrated education, they do not capture the full range of factors considered by parents when selecting a school. As a result, the findings indicate a mismatch between articulated preferences for integrated education, the availability of places in integrated schools, and the uptake of these. This study concludes that although existing methods provide part of the evidence jigsaw necessary to assess demand, alternative approaches must be considered to acknowledge the existing complexities within the education system and wider societal structures in NI.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3463
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalReview of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 12 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Review of Education published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Educational Research Association.


  • education policy
  • schools
  • student centredness


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