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.