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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Jane Corscadden

Straid community campaigning for school to become first integrated primary in Ballyclare area

A rural primary school that was saved from closure last year is now campaigning to transform to integrated status.

Straid Primary School, located in the village of Straid near Ballyclare, has been at the heart of the community for over 190 years.

After the school was saved from closure after a grassroots campaign from the community and parents last year, they're now kicking things up a gear and campaigning for the school to become the first integrated primary in the Ballyclare area.

Read more: NI parents campaign to protect 190-year-old school from closure

A poll last year conducted by LucidTalk NI found that over 70% of parents in the Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council area believed that integrated education should be the norm going forward.

The village of Straid followed this up with their own mini poll, which found that 100% of parents that voted, voted for integrated education to be more widespread.

Mum-of-three, Harriet Martin, has a child at Straid Primary School and plans to send her other children there in the future. She was involved in the campaign to save the school, and is now campaigning for it to transform to integrated.

"Ballyclare is a big area, but there's no integrated primary schools in the whole area, which I was really shocked about," she told Belfast Live.

"There are integrated schools in Glengormley and Carrickfergus, but if you live in Ballyclare that's still quite a good distance of maybe 8 or 9 miles to get to an integrated school.

"If we could get to be the first integrated primary school in the Ballyclare area that would be brilliant, as it gives people who want to send their children to an integrated school that option. That's our new journey and we're hoping it will have a good outcome."

Harriet said they've had a great response from the local community so far, with over 400 support letters and 80 expression of interest forms so far.

Acknowledging the primary school is a huge part of life in Straid, opening it up to becoming integrated could bring more people into the area too.

"Projection wise, it's all very positive and we're very excited about the future," Harriet added.

"We're hoping this will be a really positive step for Straid. Because Straid is such a small and close-knit community, the community and the school work together really well. The school is the heart of the village, so without the school the village wouldn't be what it is.

"Rural communities need their local schools, they're so important. If we get integration, it would bring people from other areas in too which would be brilliant, to give the kids a diversity of experiences and upbringing as you can possibly give them, which prepares them for life.

"We want our children to go into a future where they are all living and working together as one, and I think it's really important we show our children that from a young age.

"Not to discriminate and to show that everyone can work and be educated together, and there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case in 2022."

Expression of interest forms for integrated education at Straid Primary School can be found here.


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