Pupils from Integrated schools across Northern Ireland, gathered at Lagan College in Belfast this week, to celebrate their culinary talents with TV chef and BBC Best Home Cook winner, Suzie Lee Arbuthnot.

The event was held to congratulate the school pupils on their efforts as part of the ‘Great Integrated Bake Off’ competition, spearheaded by Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE). Teachers and students were treated to an exclusive cooking and baking masterclass with the local celebrity chef, as she shared her top tips and tricks with the lucky winners.

The ‘Great Integrated Bake-Off’ challenge, kicked off in March when it invited nursery, primary and post primary schools across Northern Ireland to get inventive with their cake creations to celebrate 40 years of Integrated education. Pupils were invited to design or bake a delightful dish which celebrates and reflects upon the Integrated ethos of their school. Students could submit a colourful cake, a technical pastry, an ambitious bread, or delicious dessert. Teachers worked alongside their students in school planning, designing, and taking time to create their bakes before sharing (and eating) the fantastic results!

Speaking on this celebratory event, Principal of Lagan College, Amanda McNamee said: “We were delighted to host the wonderful Suzie Lee at our school along with the talented winners of this wonderful competition, who were treated to some culinary masterclasses.  Lagan College was the first Integrated school in Northern Ireland and the development and growth of the Integrated sector since 1981 is cause for celebration – and let’s face it, no celebration is complete without cake! It was fantastic to see so many submissions as schools utilised this competition as an opportunity to showcase their talents in an uplifting and fun manner. Due to the success of the competition, we hope to revisit the Great Integrated Bake Off some time in the future!’

Speaking on the winning cake creations, Suzie Lee said, ‘I was so impressed by all the fabulous submissions from the school pupils. It is amazing to see so many schools get involved in something that is great for furthering their skills in cooking and baking. We definitely have some future famous chefs and bakers in our midst here in Northern Ireland, watch this space.’

Across 2022, there will be a range of events and initiatives in support of the 40th anniversary of Integrated Education.

The Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE) are encouraging Integrated schools, support bodies and interested individuals to use the anniversary as an opportunity to reflect on Integrated Education today and help build the next 40 years.