Our conference ‘Education: We All Have a Role to Play’ was held on Thu 7 February 2019 in Riddel Hall, Belfast. The IEF would like to send our thanks to all our contributors: Baroness May Blood, Dr Dirk Schubotz (QUB/ARK), Mairead McCafferty (NICCY), Eileen Chan-Hu (CRAICNI), Katrina Murphy & Eimear McKeown (New-Bridge Integrated College), Jayne Thompson (ParentKind), Charmain Jones (Rural Community Network) and also to Peter Osborne (Community Relations Council) who expertly chaired the event. We are really grateful that you were all willing to take part in our conference!
Our speakers were knowledgeable, engaging and inspiring – and the participants who attended the event were keen to discuss challenges and best practice in relation to education in our society. We are delighted with the mix of sectors represented at the event, including community, statutory as well as educational organisations, and it is clear the education is a topic that is relevant to a broad spectrum of people in our society.
At the start of the event, participants were asked to list some of the key issues in education today. The following are some of the responses: funding, mental health, segregation, underachievement, inequality, budgets, resources, pressures, lack of understanding, disadvantage, government buy in, equity of opportunity, religious instruction, poverty, frustration, engagement, special needs, reconciliation, shared education, lack of vision, selection, politics, exam pressures, structures and bullying.
The conversations during the event highlighted that although there are many challenges ahead, there are also plenty of opportunities.
Our speakers spoke about a broad range of topics, highlighting the views and experiences of young people, the importance of addressing mental health issues among our young people, encouraging and celebrating diversity in schools, involving parents in conversations about their children’s education and also of increasing reciprocal engagement between schools and local communities to achieve the best outcomes for our children.
Those attending our conference confirmed that we need to continue having broad conversations about education but also to ensure that these are acted on. The feedback confirms that people want more conversations about education as well as information on what integrated education more specifically is. They want to get parents involved in conversations around education – alongside churches, politicians and statutory organisation, and finally the participants want to develop a shared vision among schools and communities of what we would like to see in terms of education in our society moving forward.
We are truly humbled by the response from both contributors and participants. Overall, participants on average rated the usefulness of the event at 9.1/10.
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