2 Jan

Ballyhackett school in North learning valuable survival lesson

Ballyhackett school in North learning valuable survival lessonAt Ballyhackett Primary School outside Castlerock, Co Derry, religion is low on the pupils’ list of priorities.

“I know the religion of some of my friends, but not all of them,” says Ellie-Rose Guyler (10).

“I don’t think about it much,” chips in her friend Kara Mullan (9).

“We talk about other things,” explains their 10-year-old classmate Aidan Bradley.

The pupils are interested in art, homework, and playing with their friends. “We have a field,” says Aidan, pointing from the playground across the road.

Ballyhackett is surrounded by fields. In the foothills of the Sperrin Mountains, but only a few miles from the Co Derry coast, the schoolyard overlooks green countryside with the sea beyond.


12 Dec

NI Education: ‘Significant pressure’ on post-primary school places

NI Education: 'Significant pressure' on post-primary school placesThe Department of Education is warning of pressure on post-primary school places in some areas in 2020.

That is because the number of pupils transferring from primary schools has risen by 10% in only three years.

As a result, the department is asking some principals to apply for extra year eight places on a temporary basis for 2020 and 2021.

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of children who struggle to get a post-primary place.


11 Dec

School funding: ‘No more’ savings possible in some NI schools

School funding: 'No more' savings possible in some NI schools“No more” can be done in some schools to save money, the head of the Education Authority (EA) has said.

Sara Long made the comments in a letter to all school principals in Northern Ireland.

She also acknowledged what she said was their “growing frustration” with a lack of adequate funding.

In July, a Westminster committee said a lack of money was having a devastating impact on schools in Northern Ireland.

Ms Long took up the post of chief executive of the EA in April 2019.

In her letter, she said principals and school leaders had been working in “challenging circumstances,” due to ongoing action short of strike by teaching unions.

More than 450 schools in Northern Ireland could not balance their books in 2019, according to EA figures.


9 Dec

Schools: the price of segregation, from ScopeNI

Schools: the price of segregation, from ScopeNIThe latest briefing paper in Ulster University’s UNESCO Centre’s Transforming Education series, which is supported by the Integrated Education Fund could not be better timed.

Isolated Together: Pairs of Primary Schools Duplicating Provision looks at the cost of providing small rural schools of different sectors and sets out the cost of continuing duplication of provision.

It uses government data and GIS mapping to identify areas where two small primary schools, in some cases below the official sustainable enrolment level, are located close together but several miles from other, similar provision.

The issue of small, isolated schools was one that Londonderry approached with gusto. Today it is territory few politicians dare to tread.


5 Dec

Schools to move away from preparing Catholic children for sacraments

Schools to move away from preparing Catholic children for sacramentsConfirmation and communion preparation is to take place outside schools in Ireland’s largest Catholic diocese.

A survey this year found there was a strong demand for parents and parishes to play a greater role in readying children for sacraments.

A review group was set up by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin following concerns that sacraments risked being turned into “social occasions”.

Primary responsibility for preparing Catholic children for First Holy Communion falls upon teachers and schools at present.

While mainly done in Catholic schools, some integrated primaries in Northern Ireland also get children ready for sacraments including First Penance and First Communion.

It is understood there are discussions taking place in every diocese in Ireland on issues raised by Archbishop Martin.


4 Dec

‘Integrate to survive’ says primary schools report

'Integrate to survive' says primary schools reportMore mergers between small Catholic and controlled schools would save money and benefit pupils and communities, according to newly published research.

The Ulster University report identified 32 pairs of schools offering “primary aged education to two different communities… often only yards apart”.

That led to an unnecessary duplication of primary schools in some areas of Northern Ireland, it said.

The 64 primary schools identified by the researchers are not named.

But they are mainly in rural areas, and many had pupil numbers below the 105 recommended by the Department of Education’s sustainable schools policy.


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