Religious Segregation and the Emergence of Integrated Schools in Northern Ireland

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A distinctive characteristic of the education system in Northern Ireland is that most Protestant and Catholic children attend separate schools. Following the partition of Ireland the Protestant Churches transferred their schools to the new state in return for full funding and representation in the management of state controlled schools and non-denominational religious instruction was given a statutory place within such schools. The Catholic Church retained control over its own system of voluntary maintained schools, initially receiving only 65% of capital funding; however all grant-aided schools in Northern Ireland are now eligible for full funding of running costs and capital development. This paper highlights the emergence of a small number of integrated schools since the 1980s. Catholic and Protestant parents have come together as the impetus for these schools and this presents an implicit challenge to the status quo of church involvement in the management and control of schools. In practical terms the integrated schools have had to develop more inclusive arrangements for religious education, and legislation that permits existing schools to "transform" into integrated schools also presents new challenges for the society as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-575
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001


  • integrated schooling
  • northern ireland
  • segregation
  • conflict
  • faith


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