She said, “I have been deeply frustrated by public commentary in relation to this Bill.
“The truth of the matter is that no one, nor any sector, has anything to fear from this Bill.
“The Integrated education sector has been the Cinderella of the sectors for too long and this Bill simply attempts to level the playing field so integrated education can become a viable choice for parents and children. This is especially true when we consider that in 2020 some 21% of pupils who selected integrated schools for their post-primary selection were not successful in securing a place (Department of Education statistics).
“It will make law, intentions that have already been enshrined in legislation 33 years ago and endorsed by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. This Bill is therefore simply progressing the promise that political parties made when signing the Agreement.
“I do not subscribe to the narrative of an education “apartheid” in Northern Ireland and I applaud the fact that schools participate in shared education initiatives and are open to children from all religions and none. However, tolerating is not the same as celebrating children being themselves, their culture, and their religion if they have one and doing that together as part of the ethos of the school.
“It is important that the full parliamentary process prevails tomorrow and the Bill is given the space to be voted upon by all MLAs.
“I reiterate that no school or sector has anything to fear from the Integrated Education Bill and to suggest otherwise is misleading.”