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Cross-community initiative to promote shared education

10-11-2009

Irish News

Almost 2,000 children in schools in counties Derry and Antrim are to benefit from sharing in education. The Primary Integrating/Enriching Education (PIEE) project is being financed by the International Fund for Ireland and The Atlantic Philanthropies and delivered by the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB).

A three-year cross-community initiative, it promotes shared education and will impact on about 1,900 children at 28 NEELB primary schools.

The programme provides links for schools and early years groups from different community backgrounds to help them learn and work together.

PIEE, which begins during this school term, focuses on small schools with less than 105 pupils.

It will develop cross-community partnerships between schools, to deliver curricular, non-curricular and summer activities; for example, joint classes, events, shows, inter-school buddy systems and joint fundraising projects.

Pupils and teachers will benefit from access to resources and facilities available at partner schools, joint staff development and support from partners in delivering the revised curriculum.

The partnerships will help offer pupils a broad educational experience as well as the opportunities to develop new relationships.

This will improve personal well-being and social development – key elements of the personal development and mutual understanding requirements included in the revised national curriculum’s Key Stages 1 and 2.

The project is funded jointly by The Atlantic Philanthropies and International Fund for Ireland (IFI) – under its Sharing in Education Programme – which have granted £915,000 in total.

It is managed by NEELB, in partnership with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, Comhairle Na Gaelscolaiochta and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).

The project is the culmination of four years work, which began with the Integrating Education Pilot Project at NICIE in 2005, NEELB chief executive Gordon Topping said.

“In the mainly rural areas that the NEELB covers, schools often serve as the hub of the community,” Mr Topping said.

“Through the PIEE project, these schools will have the opportunity to create positive cross-community links.

“My thanks go to the funders, whose financial support has brought this project to fruition.”

IFI chairman Denis Rooney said improving academic and personal outcomes was a key driver for the Sharing in Education Programme.

“We are delighted to be contributing to the PIEE project, which I have no doubt will have a positive impact on a large group of young people, their teachers and families,” he said.

“Providing a safe and supportive environment for young people to meet, learn and work together is key to furthering community relations and helping to foster peace and non-sectarianism in Northern Ireland.”

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