EA currently manages two shared education projects, the Signature Project for Shared Education (SESP) and the Collaboration through Sharing in Education Project (CASE).
Shared Education occurs when schools from different sectors come together in local partnerships with the objective of providing enhanced educational outcomes for all young people through collaborative working.
For pupils this means participating in shared classes which have been jointly planned, delivered and evaluated by teachers from across the partner schools. For parents it means having the chance to take part in shared events within partner schools and for the wider community it offers an opportunity for groups and individuals to engage with local schools in a very different way to that previously experienced.
The Shared Education Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 means there is legislative provision in relation to Shared Education and the Department of Education and the Education Authority have a duty under the Act to encourage, facilitate and promote Shared Education. In a NI context shared education means the education together of-
- those of different religious belief, including reasonable numbers of both Protestant and Roman Catholic children or young persons; and
- those who are experiencing socio-economic deprivation and those who are not, which is secured by the working together and co-operation of two or more relevant providers.
A “relevant provider” means a person providing education at a grant-aided school, or services of any kind (including youth services) which provide educational benefit to children or young persons.
The Act further defines the purpose of shared education as to -
- deliver educational benefits to children and young persons;
- promote the efficient and effective use of resources;
- promote equality of opportunity;
- promote good relations; and
- promote respect for identity, diversity and community cohesion.
There are currently 60,000 young people involved in shared education across 600 schools in Northern Ireland alone and the EA has responsibility for managing the two major shared education projects that support this activity;
The Delivering Social Change (DSC) Signature Project for Shared Education (SESP) 2014-2019
SESP is funded through The Executive Office, Atlantic Philanthropies and the Department of Education to the amount of £25 million. The overall aim of the project has been to scale up the level of sharing throughout schools in Northern Ireland by providing financial support to improve the educational and reconciliation outcomes in schools working collaboratively. The SESP programme has been open to all schools which had previous experience of working in a cross-community partnership with other schools.
The Collaboration and Sharing in Education Project (CASE) 2017-2022
EA is the lead partner in the management of the €29 million CASE Project, working alongside its partner Léargas in the Republic of Ireland. CASE is funded by the European Union under the PEACE IV programme and is targeted at primary and post-primary schools in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties. The focus is for schools with no previous experience or limited previous experience of providing shared education opportunities for children and young people.
CASE aims to build a culture of good relations amongst children and young people in a school based setting and delivery will be through the provision of direct, sustained, curricular-based contact between children and teachers from all backgrounds.