This is the fourth blog post in which we present the results from our recent survey, and it is really appropriate to release it in Good Relations Week #GRW21, as it focuses on shared education. In April this year 2021, we invited 201 principals of small rural schools. These were all the schools that had 105 pupils or less enrolled in the school years 2019/20 or 2020/21 in a rural area (as defined by NISRA) in Northern Ireland. In total, 91 took part, although only 86 fully completed the questionnaire.
The Department of Education has publicly aimed to promote and facilitate shared education, where pupils continue to attend their own schools but participate in joint classes and activities with pupils from other types of schools. The most recent figures about participation in Shared Education indicate that “the Shared Education Signature Project (SESP) and the Peace IV Programme supported 716 schools and early years’ settings, with over 85,000 children and young people engaged in shared education at June 2019” (p.6). If you want to find out more about shared education, the Centre for Shared Education in Queen’s University Belfast has been conducting extensive research on this area.
Our findings indicate that the majority of small rural schools in Northern Ireland have been engaging in shared education programmes in different ways. Please see infographic below focused exclusively on shared education.