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Over 1,900 children in the North Eastern Board to benefit from sharing in education

Published on:  18 Sep 2009

Today marked the launch of the Primary Integrating/Enriching Education (PIEE) Project, funded by the International Fund for Ireland and The Atlantic Philanthropies, and delivered by the North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB). Today’s event was attended by 28 school principals and 20 pupils from the local area.

A three-year cross-community initiative, the Project promotes shared education and will impact on over 1,900 children at 28 primary schools in the Board’s area, which covers the local government districts of Antrim, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Larne, Magherafelt, Moyle and Newtownabbey. The Sharing in Education Programme provides links for schools and early years groups from different community backgrounds, to enable them to learn and work together.

PIEE, which begins during this school term focuses on small schools with less than 105 pupils. The initiative will develop cross-community partnerships between schools, to deliver curricular, non-curricular and summer activities; for example, joint classes, events, shows, inter-school buddy systems and joint fundraising projects. Pupils and teachers will benefit from access to resources and facilities available at partner schools, joint staff development and support from partners in delivering the revised curriculum.

The partnerships will help to offer pupils a broad educational experience as well as the opportunities to develop new relationships, thus improving personal well-being and social development – a key element of the personal development and mutual understanding requirements which are part of the revised national curriculum’s key stages 1 and 2.

The Project is funded jointly by The Atlantic Philanthropies and the International Fund for Ireland – under its Sharing in Education Programme – who have granted £915,000 in total.

“Today’s launch is the culmination of four years work, which began with the Integrating Education Pilot Project at NICIE in 2005. In the mainly rural areas that the NEELB covers, schools often serve as the hub of the community. Through the PIEE Project, these schools will have the opportunity to create positive cross-community links. My thanks go to the funders, whose financial support has brought this project to fruition,” said Gordon Topping, CEO of NEELB.

Commenting on behalf of the funders at today’s launch, Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “Improving academic and personal outcomes is a key driver for our Sharing in Education Programme, so we are delighted to be contributing to the PIEE Project, which I have no doubt will have a positive impact on a large group of young people, their teachers and families.”

“Providing a safe and supportive environment for young people to meet, learn and work together is key to furthering community relations and helping to foster peace and non-sectarianism in Northern Ireland.”

The Project is managed by NEELB, in partnership with the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools (CCMS), Comhairle Na Gaelscolaíochta (CNaG) and the Northern Ireland Council for Integrated Education (NICIE).

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