The Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2014 allowed for the creation of a support body for controlled schools, which has the potential to play a key role in the further development of the largest sector, comprising 49%, of schools in Northern Ireland.
The controlled sector, comprising nursery, special, primary, grammar and non-selective post primary schools, is facing obvious legacy issues given that there has been no specific support over the past 30 years.
The origins of the controlled sector began in the early 20th century, when schools managed mainly by the Protestant churches were transferred to the state. From these beginnings of a historic faith context and a commitment to free public education, today's controlled schools provide for a more pluralist society through a diversity of schools with individual characteristics, but with Christian core values and principles.
The modern controlled sector is therefore a large, diverse and distinctive education system which is:
- Church related
- Diverse in provision and governance
- Inclusive in making provision for children and young people from all backgrounds
- Aspirational in seeking to provide the best possible education