Poll backs good educational standards

Pupils at Brownlow Integrated College, Craigavon Photograph by Declan Roughan
Pupils at Brownlow Integrated College, Craigavon Photograph by Declan Roughan

One hundred percent of parents surveyed in Upper Bann said good educational standards are more important than a faith or cultural ethos according to a recent report.

The poll, commissioned by the Integrated Education Fund (IEF) and carried out by independent firm LucidTalk, revealed that local residents strongly supported cross-community mergers of schools to address budge issues.

The poll asked parents across NI to rate a list of factors from “very important” through “neutral” to “very unimportant” in terms of how they prioritised them when choosing a school.

Responses in Upper Bann reflected the overall NI results with “good educational standards” scoring the most highly at 100%.

Among parents in the Upper Bann area, support for “A school which reflects a particular single faith or cultural background” scored 26% whilst there was 70% approval rating for a school openly welcoming to all backgrounds and traditions.

The poll also asked parents to relate any evidence they had seen that their school was experiencing financial pressures; comments from all over NI included: “parents volunteering as classroom assistants”; “lack of provision of school books, increased requirement for parents to pay for books” and “larger classes; reduction in subjects offered; staff redundancies”.

Upper Bann residents see the merging of schools on cross-community lines as a good way to rationalise the NI education system and save money, with 77 % of those expressing an opinion supporting the idea. And there was overwhelming support in the area – 83% - for a review of the whole education system.