Unsung history of integrated schooling

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TOO great an expectation is being placed on the new integrated education system to ‘save the Province’.

It is not as if such schools never existed before the 1980s.

I attended a ‘mixed’ school in 1952 - Ballymoney Technical School - and this was some half a century after the Act which set them up throughout Ireland.

I taught in such schools in Counties Antrim, Fermanagh, Down and Tyrone throughout my teaching carer of almost 40 years.

Such schools with their evening classes served generations of young - and not so young - with dedicated ‘mixed’ staff who continued to hold integrated education together following atrocities throughout the recent Troubles, for example, Enniskillen, Magherafelt and Omagh, without much recognition.

Those involved in, and supporting, the new integrated system could learn much from the quiet, dedicated, unsung history of such integrated education over the past 100 years.

A system which served - and continues to serve - the population of Northern Ireland extremely well.

W J A Millar

retired principal