Why small rural schools facing closure should consider local amalgamation…

Twins

After the passing of an integrated education bill at Stormont, Peter Osborne, a former chair of the Community Relations Council and Parades Commission, and Board member of the Integrated Education Fund, reflects on the burden of history. Integrated education is not the final and only answer to the illness that is sectarianism in a region that has lived with segregation for decades and centuries.  Since the mid-19th century those vested interests that drove a segregated education system have contributed to …

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High Schools: Casualty of a new Northern Ireland?

school, study, education

My son attends the local high school. This seemed like a logical choice when he was in P.7. The school is on our street. Petrol is a finite resource. If you’ve been out of the education loop for a number of years, rest assured that we have a good education system here in Northern Ireland. The number of choices, however, is mind-boggling for parents, stress-inducing for children and not great for the planet. I grew up in a ‘mixed’ working …

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Slugger Podcast talks about the State of the State

Powered by RedCircle In this episode of the Slugger podcast we speak with Ed Roddis, Head of Public Sector Research and Marie Doyle, Director at Deloitte about the latest State of the State Report. We chatted about attitudes toward the health service, the protocol and confidence in the Executive. The State of the State Report for 2021 has been released by Deloitte. The report examines and attempts to put in context attitudes and opinions of the public, policy-makers and business …

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Independent Review of Education offers “a new possibility space…”

businessman, possible, impossible

In a previous life I spent a lot of time in different educational settings, across Ireland, Britain and most of Western Europe, as the non eastern bloc countries were referenced at that time, doing participatory creative work. I was working in schools at the time of the “Great” Education Reform Bill (or GERBill for journalistic shorthand) in 1988, which brought in some useful measures (like giving teachers time away from the classrooms for ongoing learning). The name was first coined …

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Make Irish teaching almost impossible and then claim there’s no demand!

mind, railway, platform

Réamonn Ó Ciaráin is Director of Education with Gael Linn. Here he argues that recent downgrading of language teaching in educational priorities is having a dilatory effect on the numbers learning Irish in Northern Irish schools. There is without doubt a crisis in languages in post-primary schools in Northern Ireland. It is affecting some languages worse than others. The Irish language is traditionally only offered in half the English medium post-primary schools in this jurisdiction. This because of historical and socio-political …

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The legacy of the past can still be felt in today’s political relationships, warns O’Neill

Legacy is being discussed at length at present, following the British government’s proposals to abandon prosecutions and investigations related to Troubles’ events. But there is another toxic legacy – the impact of past events on current political relationships. That aspect of legacy is discussed with Sinn Féin Vice President and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast.  Michelle argues that political leaders must work hard to build trust, to enable the political system here to …

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More truth and honesty needed in government, and in dealing with legacy, says Colum Eastwood

Truth and honesty must be at the heart of how we deal with the legacy of the past and in how politicians in Northern Ireland govern today, says Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP and MP for the Foyle constituency. He was speaking in the latest Holywell Trust Forward Together podcast and is the third political leader to be interviewed in the series, discussing how to make progress in Northern Ireland.  Victims have been badly treated, stresses Colum, and they …

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Let’s put our values into practice in how we govern, argues Naomi Long

If we are to make progress in Northern Ireland’s society, we need to reflect carefully on our core values and ensure that these are reflected in the way government works. This is the message put forward by Naomi Long – leader of the Alliance Party and justice minister – in the second of the Holywell Trust’s Forward Together podcast interviews of Northern Ireland’s political leaders.  Among the points stressed by Naomi is that violence is not acceptable as a means …

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Education is the key to progress

Education is the key to moving our society forward, says Tony Gallagher in the latest Forward Together podcast interview. But that has to mean much more than encouraging as many students as possible to go to university and obtain a degree. Our society has become fixated with university education, at the expense of school pupils who do not aspire to higher education. More has to be done to support children from deprived families, to encourage them through careers guidance and …

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Schools: Locked down, separately…

On 12th March, from the steps of the President’s Guest House in Washington, Leo Varadkar announced that schools across the Republic of Ireland would be closed to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. His statement echoed concerns that had been raised by teaching unions and parents in Northern Ireland and increased pressure on the Assembly to follow suit. On 18th March, First Minister Arlene Foster declared that NI would by closing all schools with effect from Monday, 23rd March, …

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Online Teaching – A guide for teachers and parents…

I spent the past few days helping my local school get ready for teaching online. As of yesterday, schools have gotten no official guidance at all on how to do this, they have been left to sort it out themselves. In this post, I will outline how it all works. For schools, you will likely be using Google Classroom . This is free to schools and you will access this via your C2k email address. Login and create a class. …

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A challenge to the separation of schools…

A closed and boarded-up primary school must be one of the commonest, and saddest, local sights.  Crumbling façades. Peeling paintwork. Broken windows. The silent playground that once resounded to excited chatter.  Weeds breaking through the tarmac where generations of children played football, rounders and ‘chasies’.  Schools aren’t just places of education, they are centres of community and repositories of communal memories, but there is little place for such sentimentality in educational planning.  Empty school desks and restrictive budgets mean that …

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Peter Weir – broaden the scope of your underachievement report…

The announcement by Peter Weir of a new report into the underachievement of working-class protestant boys will (as noted by Brian) stack up on a dusty old shelf in the Department of Education, the eighth since 2011 and these official reports are not isolated in the wider discussion on the issue. It got me thinking when Deirdre Heenan this week said about having a ‘philosophical debate’ about what we actually want from education in NI, as noted by many Slugger …

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No Peter Weir, there is nothing to be said for saying another Mass…

You might remember the Fr Ted episode Speed 3. Here is a handy episode summary from IMDB: Ted is shocked to find that Pat Mustard, the island milkman, has been having affairs with his lady customers – possibly including Mrs. Doyle – and reports him to the dairy manager. As a result Pat gets sacked and Dougal takes on the delivery route, as the manager trusts a man of God. A vengeful Mustard has attached a bomb to the milk …

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A reflection on the education system in Northern Ireland…

In his 1942 Report, Sir William Beveridge described five Giant Evils, obstacles on the road to post-war reconstruction. These were Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.[1] They were to be tackled by action and legislation on Social Security, Health, Education, Housing and a policy of full employment. At that time, men were seen as the ‘breadwinner’ and women did the housework; this assumption is inherent in Beveridge’s thinking. RA Butler, the President of the Board of Education set up a …

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Northern Ireland’s fiscal deficit is shrinking, but not in a sustainable way

Given recent polling showing that support for Irish unity is at all-time highs in Northern Ireland, there has again been a significant amount of scrutiny on the Northern Ireland fiscal deficit (also known as the subvention or block grant), the gap between taxation and government spending in Northern Ireland that it is assumed would have to be absorbed by the Irish government in the event of Irish unification. The charts at the top of the post show Northern Ireland tax …

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Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations

Shared housing and integrated education: Building good community relations by Allan LEONARD 7 August 2019 A panel discussion on how shared housing projects and the integrated education movement are contributing towards good community relations was held at St Mary’s College, Belfast, as part of the Feile Festival. The panellists were Deborah Howe (Equality Commission), Christine Davis (Housing Executive), Grainne Mullin (Radius Housing), and Jill Caskey (Integrated Education Fund). The event was chaired by Gerry McConville. After a welcome by Jessica …

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So do we have too many school places or too few?

The front page of today’s Daily Mirror has the headline ‘Soaring student numbers means Northern Ireland needs almost 300 new classrooms, study shows‘. From the story: Research from public sector procurement specialist Scape shows a sharp rise in the number of school-age children, with an extra 7,332 pupils expected to start secondary school in 2020/21. According to the report, the 9.4% rise means Northern Ireland urgently needs to build the equivalent of eight new schools to accommodate its pupils. But …

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Education: We all have a role to play

Education: We all have a role to play by Allan LEONARD 7 February 2019 The Integrated Education Fund hosted a day conference on some aspects of education in Northern Ireland, with a discussion on what role individuals, local communities, and organisations can play in realising a better vision. Contributors included: Baroness May Blood (Integrated Education Fund (IEF)), Dirk Schubotz (Queen’s University Belfast), Mairead McCafferty (Northern Ireland Commission for Children and Youth (NICCY)), Eileen Chan-Hu (CRAIC NI), Maire Thompson (Hazlewood Integrated …

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The Transfer Test: It’s time for an education rethink

On the 25th January my Twitter and Facebook timeline was full of worried, stressed parents. All of them were anxiously waiting for AQE/PPTC results, due on the 26th. The emotions on display ranged from hope to dread. I sat the 11+ when I was in school. P.7s these days have to sit three, sometimes four, one-hour exams over the course of multiple weekends if they want to get into a grammar school.  Thankfully there are plans for pupils to sit …

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