1 Dec

Mission control: we need schools to unite in their vision for the future

Each school in Northern Ireland has its mission statement – and it’s the duty of the board of governors to see that the school reflects and adheres to it. To be clear: each school has its own, individual mission statement.

Doesn’t that seem ridiculous?

Presumably those which mention specifically “academic excellence”, “the Dominican tradition” or “Catholics and Protestants together” give a clue that you are dealing with a particular ethos or admission policy. But isn’t it the role – and therefore the mission – of each and every one of our schools in NI to educate, nurture and develop our children? “Our” children meaning the younger members of the community rather than of any particular family. How can every school be on a different mission? (more…)

19 Nov

Shared Education Bill? – Could do better!!!

This Bill deserves extensive scrutiny. The issue of shared education is important – too important for us to miss an opportunity to help build an Act which works to benefit young people and the wider community. The Committee’s consultation on the bill opened the way for citizens to raise concerns and contribute to the future of sharing and integration in Northern Ireland’s schools.

The Bill itself looks slight: purely a bid to give shared education a legal definition, list a start date for the EA to assume a statutory duty in relation to shared education, and give other education bodies a power to encourage and facilitate the practice. (more…)

6 Nov

Speech by Hilary Copeland, NI Integrated Education Alumni Association – IEF House of Lords dinner, Monday 2 November 2015

It’s been quite a significant year for me and my relationship with integrated education. Since October 2014 I have been involved with the Northern Ireland group of the Integrated Education Alumni Association, attending meetings and organising events, as well as getting in touch with past pupils 

Recently I’ve also been able to reconnect with my old school, New-Bridge Integrated College. They approached me in June to work on their celebrations ahead of the 20th anniversary of the college in September. Throughout the summer I researched and collected archive photos and press clippings from my school’s history, organising displays and exhibitions for the anniversary week last month. (more…)

20 Oct

Peace; by Year 10 students from Drumragh Integrated College

When I think of peace I think of sunsets, smiling people, meadows, inspirational quotes. I think of news reports of wars come to an end in faraway countries and people that have made headlines across the world for standing up for what they believe in.

But maybe, peace isn’t just stunning photos taken at the right moment or world leaders reaching an agreement. Maybe peace is the smaller things, the things closer to home, the little things we do each day. Random acts of kindness; helping out a friend in need, opening doors for people, these little things that make others smile, slowly making our world better. (more…)

28 Sep

Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week 2015 – One Place, Many People

By Jacqueline Irwin. Jacqueline is Chief Executive of the Community Relations Council which is co-ordinating the programme of events for Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week. The events listing can be viewed on the CRC website www.nicrc.org.uk

Community Relations and Cultural Awareness Week 2015 begins on 28 September. The theme is “One Place, Many People” to highlight and celebrate the wide range of people, cultures, traditions and beliefs that make up our community. The theme is also a timely reminder of some of the skills we need for living in the world today. Welcoming those that are different from us and knowing how to show respect to each other should be a fundamental expectation and an essential part of everyday life here as we learn to live with and celebrate our diversity.

Schools, as well as businesses, churches, sport clubs and societies are the social fabric of our lives – these are the engines that drive our sense of interconnectedness or of separation. Whether we like it or not, diversity is intrinsic to who we were, who we are and who we will be in the future. We are a place that is full of different identities and aspirations. Learning to cherish our differences, not just tolerate them and to share this place is our moral responsibility. If our children find a better way to live with their differences they will have helped secure their future in this diverse world. (more…)

27 Aug

Education fit for the 21st century needed by everyone on this island

Baroness May Blood responds to comments made by Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams.

Gerry Adams’ recent comments regarding education in the Republic offer a welcome and progressive vision of an education system fit for the 21st Century. Given that Sinn Fein’s last manifesto (in 2011) called for “Harmonisation of the two education systems on the island” I look forward to progress on the structures of the schools system in Northern Ireland too.

A report in 2012 called for a major restructuring of education in the Republic of Ireland, opening the way for schools which have been governed by churches to be released to other patrons. The Sinn Fein leader has joined his voice to calls for this to be implemented “as speedily as possible” pointing out that “Taxpayers’ money, not the Church, is what funds the education system and Irish parents are demanding greater choice.” (more…)

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