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Conference Showcases How Building Good Relations Must be Embedded in Schools

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A special conference held at the Dunadry Hotel today (22nd October 2013) has heard that a planned and progressive move for deeper and broader good relations must be secured as a practical and lasting legacy in Northern Ireland.

 

221013WC1_024The call for embedding and furthering good relations in schools was made by International Fund for Ireland Board Member Billy Gamble at the Community Relations In Schools hosted ‘Whole School Community Approaches to Shared Education’ conference.

  

 

At the conference Mr Gamble stressed how such interventions offered practical and sensible blueprints to sharing in schools. Mr Gamble said: “The International Fund for Ireland has made a huge commitment, in money and effort, on its sharing in education programme. Over £18 million has been invested in over twenty projects to demonstrate that it is possible to share classrooms and resources and at the same time deliver good educational outcomes and promote good relations.

 

“With IFI funding, the Community Relations In Schools ‘Whole School Community Approaches’ project has been able to explore new ways of developing shared education. It has allowed the learners to explore their own values and beliefs as well as those of their counterparts and has also allowed them the opportunity to consider the principles of inclusive shared education. This outstanding forward thinking serves as a model of good practice and its successes are now being shared at this conference so that others can benefit from its key learnings.”

  

The £539,878 Community Relations In Schools ‘Whole Schools Community Approaches’ project reached 2,720 children and young people, 480 school staff and 300 parents and care-givers from 24 schools across the Antrim area, North Belfast and Cookstown areas over a four and a half year period. The project also engaged with approximately 50 community relations stakeholders in each area.

  

Launched in March 2009, it was developed with £473,000 funding from the International Fund for Ireland’s Community Bridges Programme and was managed by the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council.

  

Community Relations In Schools is a cross-community education organisation working extensively across Northern Ireland to deliver services that promote education for mutual understanding, cross-community contact and meaningful dialogue within a segregated school system.

  

The project’s key successes include: the development of strategic area-based school leadership networking groups; the embedding of Foundation to Key Stage 4 Community Relations Curriculum resource; the creation of sustainable inter-community family support groups; and increased capacity for staff across all schools to engage with and facilitate meaningful Community Relations and relationship building lessons, initiatives and projects.

  

Community Relations In Schools Director Lisa Dietrich said: “Community Relations In Schools believes passionately in the value of a ‘whole school approach’ to community and good relations work. Without the support of the International Fund for Ireland this pioneering work would not have happened. We are very thankful to the Fund for its generous assistance and hope the experiences and learning we are sharing today will leave a lasting legacy for many more years to come.” 

 

Click here to download press release