The first baseline assessment of the controlled education sector, published on Monday 18 September by the Controlled Schools’ Support Council (CSSC), highlighted some interesting statistics around the religious composition of controlled schools.
Often mislabelled and assumed to be the ‘Protestant’ sector, the analysis shows clearly that controlled schools are inclusive and open to all.
The figures show that the religious composition in the controlled sector is:
- 66% Protestant
- 10% Catholic
- 18% no religion
- 6% other
CSSC’s Vice chairperson Andy Brown, who was nominated by the Transferor Representatives’ Council explains.
“Whilst controlled schools are firmly set within an ethos embedded in Christian values, they are non-denominational. They welcome and provide education for children of all faiths and of none. The controlled sector most definitely is not the segregated education system it is often presumed to be.
“Behind these headline figures, controlled schools are complex and varied, strongly embedded in their communities,” says Andy Brown.
"This has led to many controlled schools being integrated in all but name, in addition to the 27 formally integrated controlled schools.
“Such schools have not followed the formal process for integration and are a reflection of their surrounding communities. CSSC’s engagement with such schools has demonstrated that school leaders from such ‘naturally integrated’ schools are proud of the inclusivity of their schools.
“The ethos and leadership of the schools plays a role in creating a climate where children of all backgrounds are educated together.”
Some interesting facts with regard to inclusivity in controlled schools include:
- The total proportion of Protestant pupils in controlled schools has declined by over 10% since 2004/05
- Three primary schools have 95% or more pupils from the Catholic faith
- One greater Belfast school has almost 80% of pupils who are ‘other Christian, non-Christian, no religion or unknown’.
The inclusivity of the sector is further enhanced when special schools and nursery schools are considered.
“Nursery schools are not aligned to any faith background and all but two special schools are controlled,” Andy Brown continues.
“I am proud to be working with my colleagues to develop the ethos of controlled schools and ensure that they remain open and inclusive to all children and young people. We will continue to raise the profile of the integrated nature of the controlled sector, and celebrate the successes of pupils in all aspects of their school life.”