Ulidia Integrated College
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|Motto||Educating together, Catholics and Protestants, and those of other religions, or none, in an atmosphere of understanding and tolerance to the highest academic standards.|
|Type||Integrated secondary school|
|Principal||Mr M Houston|
|Chair of Board of Governors||Mr R McAlister|
Ulidia Integrated College is situated in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. It was opened in 1997 with an initial 63 students. It is the 44th integrated school to be created in the province and provides education for over 530 Catholic and Protestant children.
Catchment area background
East Antrim is considered the only area in Northern Ireland in which the separate communities of that area have become more polarised since The Troubles began. The School prides itself in educating pupils from any religious background.
An integrated school
Under the Education Reform Order (NI), 1989 a school wishing to obtain Grant Maintained Integrated status must convince the Department of Education that it can draw a minimum of 30% of its population from the minority tradition of the area it wishes to serve.
The history of the college begins with the failed attempt to open an integrated college in Carrickfergus in 1995. Castle Integrated College failed because of massive opposition from interested parties in the East Antrim area. However, the steering group behind Castle Integrated College refused to give up and started planning again for an integrated college in East Antrim.
A proposal for a new college was lodged again with the Department of Education in early 1997. This proposal was for the opening of a brand new integrated college in Whitehead, a few miles north of Carrickfergus. The Department of Education refused the request and financial assistance. Under the guidance of Tom Pennycook, a parent, the steering committee steadfastly refused to give up hope and decided to open the proposed new integrated college, independently, without financial assistance from the Department of Education.
The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) was approached in February 1997 for support. NICIE acted for the steering group. Their sister organisation, the Integrated Education Fund (IEF), obtained funding for the college for a period of three months only, with the promise that the IEF would fund-raise for the college to help maintain it throughout its first year.
The steering group, having secured guaranteed funding for three months went about enlisting the necessary 60 students (with a 30% balance from the minority religion), and the recruitment of principal and staff.
The college eventually opened on a disused hockey pitch, in Whitehead, on the 1 September 1997, under the leadership of Eugene Martin, an experienced teacher and manager from Northern Ireland's first integrated school, Lagan College. Ulidia consisted then of six teachers, second-hand temporary accommodation, second-hand furniture and equipment, but first class, quality teachers. It also had its most valuable asset – 63 students and religious balance!
A further development proposal was submitted to the Department of Education, but again this was rejected. The department did not feel that such a school in such an area was viable. The college had to survive on its own finances for another year before a new development proposal could be submitted.
With additional financial assistance from the IEF, Ulidia Integrated College did survive. Interest in this new integrated college from parents in the area was overwhelming. Yet another Development Proposal was submitted to try and obtain full government funding for the 1998–99 academic year and yet again the Department of Education turned the college down. The Department again was 'not convinced about the viability of an integrated college in an area where the minority religion represented only 9%–11% of the population'.
Once again, the college approached the IEF for financial assistance for 1998/99 and once again their friends at both NICIE and the IEF pledged their support.
The college continued independently in 1998–99 with over 130 students and ten staff and more mobile accommodation. The religious balance was perfect (31% minority) and completely in line with government recommendations – yet the government of the day still remained "not convinced". The IEF continued to fund the college from their meagre resources and the high quality education that was promised to the students was delivered by the staff.
The now customary Development Proposal was again presented to the Department of Education for the academic year 1999–2000. Given that the college had over 130 students with over 600 students on its waiting lists for the incoming years, everyone at the school was confident that this would be its year. However the college was, for the seventh time, refused funding.
Not dismayed, and with morale high, Ulidia again sought help from the IEF and its sponsors and, true to the sincere and genuine nature of that organisation, Ulidia was assured that the IEF would "go to the wall" before it would cease funding the college. With the help of the American Ireland Fund and the European Peace Project, finance was found to allow it to continue in existence for yet another year. It was in this year that the college moved to its present site in Carrickfergus, necessitated by the fact that suitable land could not be found in Whitehead to allow for the college's rapid expansion.
In 1999–2000 the college had an enrollment of 17 staff and 240 students, with religious balance, and more temporary accommodation. In December 1999, the Department of Education granted Ulidia full funding, effective from September 2000.
The initial journey was over and Ulidia Integrated College finally joined the ranks as Northern Ireland's 44th fully funded integrated college. During its time in the educational wilderness as an independently funded college Ulidia suffered three petrol bomb attacks, one of which destroyed the college library and numerous sectarian incidents directed toward the students.
With an enrollment of 500 students, the college is over-subscribed yearly by 70%. The future of the college is now secure. In ten years it has been transformed from a financially insecure independent college to one of Northern Ireland's top integrated schools.
Educating together, Catholics and Protestants, and those of other religions, or none, in an atmosphere of tolerance and understanding, to the highest possible academic standards.
- "Ulidia Integrated College". ulidiacollege.com. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "Ulidia Integrated College". goodschoolsguide.co.uk. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- "BBC NI - Schools - Agreement - Reconciliation - Integrated ...". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Orr, Jake. "Tag Archive | "Ulidia Integrated College"". ayoungertheatre.com. Retrieved 9 March 2014.
- Carrickfergus Learning Community
- List of integrated schools in Northern Ireland
- List of secondary schools in Northern Ireland
- Ulidia Integrated College website
- Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education website
- The Integrated Education Fund website