Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ivan Lewis MP visited the Fermanagh Trust to learn about the success of Shared Education in the County. The Labour MP, accompanied by local MP Michelle Gildernew, was given an insight into the Fermanagh Trust’s Shared Education Programme by local principals.
Mr Lewis was given an extensive briefing on the achievements and challenges encountered by participating schools and how the programme was working at a grassroots level. The MP said he was inspired by the leadership of the principals and impressed by their desire to see the programme continue to flourish. He heard how by working co-operatively on a cross community basis, schools have been able to strengthen curriculum delivery and enhance educational opportunities for pupils.
The MP said “This is an impressive programme. Shared education is clearly a solution to save diversity, communities and choice. You guys are the trail blazers. The challenge now is to make sure it is mainstreamed and in the DNA of policy. It certainly offers a way forward for others to learn from.” After the meeting Mr Lewis commented on how uplifting the meeting was and signalled he would like to come back and visit a Shared Education partnership.
‘‘Fermanagh schools have been at the forefront of developing Shared Education. It was terrific to hear directly from the principals about how Shared Education is making such a valuable contribution to the children’s education’’ outlined Local MP Michelle Gildernew who facilitated the visit.
Victoria Wilson, Principal of Newtownbutler PS said “I was delighted to have the opportunity along with principals across Fermanagh to meet the Shadow Secretary of State. It was good to highlight the shared education work taking place in our schools and outline the opportunities, benefits and challenges. We hope to build on this work in the future with the proposed mainstreaming of shared education”.