The Rural Centre for Shared Education established by the Fermanagh Trust appeared before the Education Committee to give oral evidence as part of their consideration of the Shared Education Bill.
Drawing upon their experience of developing and delivering a Shared Education Programme in Fermanagh since 2008, involving 5,000 pupils from 50 schools participating in regular shared classes, the Rural Centre briefed committee members on how the Bill could be strengthened, enabling Shared Education to grow and flourish in line with the wishes of school communities.
Speaking during the briefing Lauri McCusker, Director of the Fermanagh Trust said “Shared Education is about possibilities and potential. We very much welcome the Bill and the leadership which has been taken on Shared Education by the Assembly and Committee under the guidance of the Department. This is important legislation which has the opportunity to further embed societal benefits, educational improvements and more effective use of resources”
A number of recommendations were put forward to the committee by the Rural Centre for Shared Education based on their own experience. This includes a ‘duty’ being placed on the Department of Education and it’s arms length bodies to not only encourage and facilitate but also promote Shared Education. Recognising that a number of policies mitigate against Shared Education, it was also suggested that all policies within education should be screened to encourage Shared Education where appropriate.
Chairman of the Committee Peter Weir along with other members commented how useful it was to hear recommendations from practitioners and how they appreciated the direct expertise. The Committee Stage of the Shared Education Bill is due to be completed by the beginning of January and the Bill should reach it’s final stage in March.
To read the Rural Centre for Shared Education's written evidence CLICK HERE