Bill supporters should explain decision to devalue 93% of school pupils

DUP MLA Diane Dodds has said the Integrated Education Bill seeks to segregate and elevate one sector of our education system to the detriment of a majority of children in Northern Ireland. She called on supporters of the Bill to properly explain their position to the public.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Mrs Dodds was speaking after the Further Consideration Stage of the Alliance Party Bill was debated today in the Assembly.

The Upper Bann MLA said, "This was a rushed Bill, brought to the Assembly without proper consultation or consideration and even at this stage of the legislative process it remains fundamentally defective. It is neither good for our schools or good for our society as a whole. It does nothing to bring our children together, but instead segregates one sector of our education system and elevates it above all others.

The Bill doesn't make some theoretical change, but would have a direct impact on all other schools and the children who attend them. Even at this late stage of the process an attempt was made to amend the Bill and ensure funding commitments aligned with the elevated status of Integrated schools under this Bill would be made without detriment to other education sectors. It is shameful that an amendment was necessary to provide protection against detrimental treatment towards children in our schools. It is far worse that the Bill's sponsor and its supporters rejected this reasonable attempt to mitigate the worst excesses of bad legislation.

The message sent out by this Bill and those who support it is that they do not value the 93% of children who will see their schools devalued and diminished as a result of bad legislation. Many of those who have supported this Bill throughout the legislative process have done so without any clear public explanation of why. The parents, teachers and pupils of all those schools harmed deserve answers."

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