Almost 60,000 pupils and about 580 schools now take part in shared education projects in Northern Ireland. However, some schools in shared partnerships are reluctant to “address issues that could be regarded as sensitive or controversial”. The BBC reports.
Shared education involves pupils from separate schools and different backgrounds engaging in joint classes and activities.
Teachers and school governors from different schools can also work together.
Seaview Primary School in north Belfast has been in partnership with St Patrick’s Primary School in the nearby New Lodge area for three years.
Seaview’s principal Corinne Latham said working together on a sustained basis helped pupils explore their similarities and differences.
“Not only do they meet new friends but they’re learning that the main difference they have is actually their school uniform – they are the same people with unique personalities but different types of identity.”
More than 580 schools from pre-school to post-primary are involved in more than 250 shared education partnerships.
The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) evaluation into shared education said that “through learning with others, the pupils developed positive attitudes, including empathy, respect and inclusion”.
“When partnerships explored sensitive and controversial issues, such as aspects of history, the learning was deeper than in other situations,” it said.
In the most effective partnerships, pupils, staff and sometimes parents and the wider community were jointly involved in planning and running sustained activities
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