The following FAQs provide more information about Shared Education Week and Shared Education.
What is Shared Education Week?
Northern Ireland’s first ever Shared Education Week will raise awareness and understanding of Shared Education, celebrate and showcase its success, and explore its future direction.
The objectives of the week are to:
- celebrate and share the success of the Shared Education programmes being carried out in schools with their pupils, staff, parents and local communities;
- raise awareness and promote a better understanding of the nature, purpose, extent, value and impact of Shared Education in Northern Ireland; and
- explore the future direction of Shared Education
Why Shared Education Week?
Collaboration between schools across sectors in Northern Ireland has a long history, with programmes to promote improved community relations taking place since the 1980s. Levels of sharing have developed significantly in recent years, with an increased emphasis on delivering educational benefits through formal Shared Education over the past decade.
The Shared Education journey in Northern Ireland is at a crucial stage as the lessons learned from funding programmes are informing the development of sustainable, long-term arrangements to mainstream and embed Shared Education into the wider education system. It is important to raise awareness and explore and debate its future direction to ensure that Shared Education provision is of the highest quality, continues to grow and develop, and adds real benefit to the educational experience and outcomes for our children and young people.
Who organises Shared Education Week?
Shared Education Week is organised by the Shared Education Learning Forum (SELF) in partnership with key organisations involved in delivering and promoting Shared Education, good relations and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. These include: Department of Education, Education Authority, Community Relations Council, Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), C2K, Community Relations in Schools (CRIS), Queen’s University Belfast and Fermanagh Trust.
How can I get involved?
You can get involved in Shared Education Week in several ways:
- Organise a shared education activity with your pupils, staff, parents and community.
- Download the resource pack for schools (available September)
- Connect with us on social media @SharedEdWeek
- Let us know about your event by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Shared Education?
At its heart Shared Education involves providing children and young people from different communities, as well as social and economic backgrounds, with the opportunity to learn together.
Shared Education can involve both statutory and voluntary early years educational settings; primary and post primary schools; and non-formal educational environments, such as statutory and voluntary youth work settings.
Further information about how Shared Education is defined is available on the Department of Education’s website: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/what-shared-education
How is Shared Education Delivered?
Shared Education is delivered through partnerships, consisting of two or more schools, or other education providers, from different sectors and community backgrounds. This means that children and young people from each of the main communities have the opportunity to learn together, through planned, regular contact, based on the NI curriculum.
What is the scale of Shared Education in NI?
As of March 2018, the numbers involved in SESP were:
- 371 schools (16 pre-school, 246 primary, 99 post primary, 5 special) representing 159 partnerships
- 49,153 pupils
As of March 2018, the numbers involved in Peace IV were:
- 212 schools (51 pre-school, 150 primary, 10 post primary, 1 special) representing 95 partnerships
- 9,896 pupils
Source: Advancing Shared Education, Report to the NI Assembly, Department of Education, May 2018
Is funding available for Shared Education?
Revenue funding for Shared Education is currently available through two programmes:
- the £25m Delivering Social Change Shared Education Signature Project (DSC SESP) available to June 2019, for schools previously engaged in partnership work. The project is funded by the Department of Education, Atlantic Philanthropies and The Executive Office and is delivered by the Education Authority; and
- the €35m Peace IV Shared Education Programme (funded by the EU, with match funding from the Department of Education and the ROI Department of Education and Skills) available to December 2022 for schools and early years settings with little or no prior experience of Shared Education. Two consortia have been appointed to deliver the Programme – the Education Authority-led Collaborating Through Sharing in Education (CASE) aimed at schools, and the Early Years Organisation-led Sharing from the Start (SFS) aimed at pre-school settings.
Where can I get more information about Shared Education?
More information about Shared Education is available on the following websites:
Department of Education: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/topics/schools-and-infrastructure/shared-education
Shared Education Signature Project: http://www.sepni.org/site/index.asp
Collaborating and Sharing in Education: http://www.peaceivni.org/site/index.asp
Sharing from the Start: www.sharingfromthestart.org
What are the benefits of Shared Education?
Shared Education provides enhanced learning opportunities which are embedded in the NI curriculum. Benefits for pupils include:
- New friendships and experiences
- A broader range of learning opportunities, leading to richer experiences and enhanced outcomes
- Enhanced confidence, communication, creativity and critical thinking
- Mutual understanding and respect for diversity
- Team working and opportunities to work collaboratively
Whilst schools each retain their own identity and ethos, they can also confidently build positive trusting relationships with their partner schools, which bring about the following benefits:
- Professional development opportunities (including through Teacher Professional Learning Modules)
- Improved engagement and relationships between schools
- New experiences, ideas and innovation
- Enhanced collaboration and professional networks
- Pooling and sharing of resources and practice
Schools are often described as being at the heart of their community. Shared Education provides the opportunity for schools to enhance their connections and have an even bigger impact. Benefits for communities include:
- Improved relationships between schools and communities
- Enhanced local engagement
- The promotion of good relations and community cohesion
The above benefits have been determined through comprehensive evaluations. These include those completed by the Education and Training Inspectorate and Queen’s University, Belfast.
How does Shared Education relate to the planned Shared Education Campuses (SEC)?
The SEC Programme is a headline action under the Executive’s Together: Building a United Community strategy and is aimed at providing capital investment to schools to facilitate and deliver the following types of sharing:
- Shared Education facilities (new facilities for Shared Education use by all partner schools);
- Enhanced educational facilities (current facilities improved to allow for Shared Education use by all partner schools); and
- Shared Education campuses (partners schools co-located on same site and share infrastructure).
Funding is provided through the Fresh Start Agreement (£50m per year to March 2026 for shared and integrated schools). There have been three calls for applications to date, the first two of which identified five projects to progress to planning – Limavady, Ballycastle, Moy, Brookeborough and Duneane/Moneynick.
For future information visit: https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/articles/shared-education-campuses-programme
Strule Shared Education Campus
The Strule Shared Education Campus (Omagh) is a pioneering programme representing a major investment in the delivery of education in Northern Ireland. It is a significant Shared Education partnership, bringing together over 4000 children and young people from across the community drawn from the Controlled and Voluntary school sectors.
The campus has been designed to cultivate cohesion, collaboration and partnership between schools. The sharing of facilities, skills and resources will enable a more flexible approach to learning with enhanced curriculum choices, encouraging and supporting young people to flourish and to become the best that they can be.
Students attending schools not situated on the campus will be encouraged to avail of campus facilities through the Omagh Learning Community partnership arrangements. The wider community will also be able to avail of the campus facilities outside school hours, stimulating community development and supporting social inclusion.
Further information can be found at: www.strule.org