A number of local primary schools visited shared campuses in Scotland to meet principals and see how it works for them on the ground. Teachers and Boards of Governors from Fermanagh and Omagh primary schools toured and met with staff and pupils at St Ignatious PS with Wishaw Academy and All Saints PS with Rochsolloch PS. The visit was organised by the Rural Centre for Shared Education and funded by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.
The visit to Glasgow provided school leaders the opportunity to see the advantages from an educational, community and economic perspective that are possible through the establishment of a shared campus. They were shown how the identities and ethos of two individual schools can be maintained and promoted whilst at the same time strengthening the respectful relationships between them.
Across the whole of Scotland, 35 sites have been built with Catholic, non – denominational and others sorts of schools joining to eat, play and work together. Being together in the same building allows the staff and children to collaborate and break down barriers.
In Northern Ireland schools are being encouraged to apply for support to build on existing sharing arrangements as part of the Shared Education Campuses Programme. To date five projects have been announced to proceed in planning and the Executive has committed to starting 10 new campuses by 2018 under the ‘Together: Building a United Community’ initiative.
Two of the schools who took part in the Glasgow visit, Brookeborough PS and St Mary’s PS are one of the five projects which are being advanced by the Department of Education. The Brookeborough schools are optimistic that a Shared Campus is the right step for them in their journey after 45 years of shared education and collaborative work together. The visit to Scotland will support the detailed planning of the Brookeborough campus.
Catherine Ward from the Rural Centre for Shared Education commented “This was a very insightful visit for our local schools, seeing how well a shared campus can work. It was a pleasure to meet the principals and we all very much appreciated their efforts and support. To experience the model and vision of a shared campus and the cooperation of the schools was very interesting, inspiring and informative.”