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O’Dowd hails shared approach between County Antrim primary schools

11 September, 2013 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has hailed the impact of an innovative shared approach between two County Antrim primary schools.

Moneynick Primary School in Randalstown and Duneane Primary School, a short distance away in Toomebridge, collaborated over the last four years as part of a special project funded by the International Fund for Ireland and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Speaking during a visit to the two schools, the Minister said:

“Shared education is not a mythical or unattainable concept. In fact, it is something that for many schools across the north is their normal everyday routine as they work together and share resources between and across different sectors.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to see a fine example of such co-operation at Moneynick and Duneane Primary Schools and the positive impact it is having on the education of pupils. Having worked together on various projects on an ad hoc basis for some time, the schools got involved with the Primary Integrating/Enriching Education (PIEE) project, funded by the International Fund for Ireland and The Atlantic Philanthropies.

“The PIEE scheme has seen Moneynick and Duneane cement a strong working partnership. The funding enabled the schools to employ a shared teacher, creating a real link between the two organisations. Now that the project has ended, I am very heartened by the fact that the schools plan to continue working together for the pupils’ benefit.”

The PIEE project was delivered across 26 schools, engaging almost 1,900 pupils in total. The project co-ordinators have produced a handbook offering practical advice for schools on how to establish partnerships. The handbook will be distributed to all local primary schools and the Minister took receipt of a copy during his visit.

Mr O’Dowd continued: “Sharing of resources and teaching is becoming more and more common right across the local education sector. The handbook produced by the PIEE project co-ordinators can only serve to boost the popularity of shared education as it sets out practical steps that will assist teachers, Principals and Boards of Governors in identifying, and making the most of, opportunities to share with other schools.

“I commend the Principals, Governors, staff and pupils at Moneynick and Duneane Primary Schools, along with parents, families and the local community as a whole, on their positive approach to sharing between the schools.”

Finally, the Minister concluded by saying: “I took receipt of the report by the Ministerial Advisory Group on shared education in March and have been carefully considering its findings. I plan to make a statement on the way ahead for shared education in the coming weeks.”

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