Shared campus model proves successful

Published:

Neighbouring Catholic and Protestant secondary schools – chosen to be one of Northern Ireland’s first shared campuses – say working together significantly improves cross-community relations.

Ballycastle High School and Cross and Passion College stand on opposite sides of a road in the coastal town of Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

While they serve children from different community backgrounds, the two have a tradition of collaboration.

Almost 300 pupils attend weekly, shared curricular classes. There is a joint school council, a single choir and combined year 8 and 9 rugby team.

In July, the schools’ Moyle Shared Education Proposal was approved for funding.

When operational, there will be two new core schools and two shared centres, one for STEM and one for performance and creative arts.

The Northern Ireland Assembly’s education committee is now holding an inquiry into all shared and integrated education.

The principals of the two Ballycastle schools are among those to have presented papers to this inquiry.

In their paper, headteachers Barbara Ward and Ian Williamson say both schools have a sense of helping to shape the future.

Their vision of collaboration, efficient use of resources and increased choice, they say, has proven to be highly beneficial to the pupils, parents, schools and community.

“The vision and ethos has grown organically within a heartfelt context of mutual dependency and respect for each-other’s differences,” their paper reads.

“This non-threatening sense of shared purpose and simple ‘good neighbourliness’ has impacted significantly on cross-community relations.”

In a socially deprived area, they add, many parents still just want the best life chances possible for their children.

“This is the pervading attitude of most of our parents. But this sense of aspiration and expectation has to be nurtured by effective communication and genuine open, caring relationships.

“Parents know that every child matters in both our schools.

“We earnestly endeavour to show our parents that education has in the past and can in the future provide the vehicle for their children’s advancement.”

 


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