Northern Ireland

Harding Memorial Primary in east Belfast to be integrated

Harding Memorial
Image caption The 217-pupil Harding Memorial primary is on east Belfast's Cregagh Road

An east Belfast primary is set to become an integrated school following a vote by parents.

The 217-pupil Harding Memorial Primary on the Cregagh Road would become the first such school in the area if the plan is approved.

In a ballot, 87% of parents who voted opted to transform Harding Memorial into an integrated school.

Principal Stephen Cumper and the board of governors have also backed the plans.

The legal process by which a school changes to become integrated is called transformation.

Actor Liam Neeson had previously appealed for more parents to consider making the change in their children's schools.

A ballot of parents is required before transformation can begin, and at least 50% must take part.

In Harding Memorial's case 212 of 316 (67%) eligible parents voted, with 185 (87%) opting to transform the school into an integrated school.

Image caption More than 85% of parents who voted backed the school's "transformation"

A proposal for change must now go forward to the Education Authority, which will hold a consultation on the plans.

The Department of Education then makes the final decision whether to approve the school's move to become formally integrated.

There are currently 65 integrated schools in Northern Ireland, educating about 7% of pupils.

Any new one must aim to attract 30% of its pupils from the minority community in its area.

Both the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education and the Integrated Education Fund also welcomed the result of the Harding Memorial ballot.

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