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Diversity Resource – a 1st for Primary Schools, North and South

10 December, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Minister Caitríona Ruane MLA and Minister for Integration in 26 Counties, Conor Lenihan TD have jointly launched a Toolkit for Diversity in the Primary School.

The resource will assist schools to develop more inclusive and intercultural school practices and environments. It will be distributed to around 4000 primary schools in Ireland, North and South.

Funded jointly by the Department of Education and Science and the Southern Education and Library Board, this is the first time that a resource for schools has been developed on a cross border basis.

Speaking at the launch in Dundalk, Minister Ruane welcomed the cross border collaboration. She said:

"This resource is tangible proof of the value of cross border collaboration, harnessing the expertise in both parts of the country to the benefit of schools and society as a whole. It is a celebration of diversity in the educational environment and it supports the process of developing our future adults for the multicultural society in which we live."

The pack promotes a positive view of the challenges and opportunities created by a diverse school population for developing respect for each person, for linguistic and cultural enrichment and for the preparation of all young people to take their places in the intercultural society in which they live.

The project was led by Dr Barbara Lazenby Simpson from Integrate Ireland Language and Training and Mary Yarr from the Southern Education and Library Board, with extensive consultation and many contributions from school principals and teachers, North and South.

Both Ministers congratulated all who had contributed to the project, including SCoTENS (Standing Council on Teacher Education, North and South) for the provision of seed funding, the many teachers who participated to ensure that different educational contexts were taken into consideration and wished all schools success in its implementation.


The toolkit draws together some ten years of experience from north and south, all firmly embedded in research and international best practice. It is accompanied by a CD

It contains four sections:

Section 1 - Getting ready, addresses the preliminary issues that any school must deal with if it is to be genuinely welcoming and inclusive.

Section 2 - Early days, is concerned with the first steps towards the integration of pupils from other countries, cultures and ethnicities; inevitably the focus is very much on language and the need to develop classroom communication and a classroom environment capable of responding to new linguistic and cultural challenges.

Sections 3 and 4 - Moving on and What Next? A response to the fact that inclusiveness is a continuous process.

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