Education Policy in Northern Ireland: a Review

Samuel J. McGuinness

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While Northern Ireland (NI) society continues on its journey away from conflict, schools and teacher training colleges remain largely segregated on a religious basis. Since the establishment of the first integrated school only twelve more have been established out of 215 post-primary schools. While successive education ministers have attempted to end academic selection at eleven, it remains an option for primary school pupils. While academic outcomes are very good among the most able, international assessment outcomes indicate underperformance among too many, despite strategies to address this. A modern curriculum is in place which aspires to equip students for the world of work by focusing on the development of transferable skills with a strong emphasis on information technology. Schools increasingly collaborate through the growth of area learning communities. The strong accountability agenda driven by the Department of Education (DENI) and the Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) creates a climate of ‘performativity’ among headteachers. There is a need for school leadership development which is being addressed to some extent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-237
JournalItalian Journal of Sociology of Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • education policy
  • segregation
  • integrated education
  • selection
  • long tail of underachievement
  • collaboration
  • performativity
  • Northern Ireland


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