PEACE Celebration at St Paul’s

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Thursday 20th June marked a night of celebration in St Paul’s High School Bessbrook to highlight the success of the three year Sharing Education Programme (SEP). This initiative was launched in September 2010 to promote reconciliation by facilitating collaboration and sharing between schools across Northern Ireland.  The programme was funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies and managed by Queen’s University Belfast.

The group of schools in the South Armagh area or PEACE Partnership (Partnership for Educational and Community Enrichment) designed an ambitious menu of curricular and extra curricular collaborative activities, which enabled young people from across the partnership to access a range of enriching educational opportunities and experiences.

The partners involved in the PEACE Initiative include St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook,  who have led and managed the programme as host school, Newtownhamilton High School, Rathore School for Children with Special Educational Needs, Newry High School, Bessbrook Primary School, St Joseph’s Primary School, Meigh and St Joseph’s Primary School, Bessbrook and St Malachy’s Primary School in Ballymoyer.

Over the last three years students from the partner schools have engaged in shared classes in the areas of Learning for Life and Work, Music, Drama, Btec First Sport, Science, Spanish, Art and Design and STEM.  Among the many successes of the programme which were showcased during the celebratory event were the creation of a joint band, choral group and the joint rugby team between St Paul’s High School and Newtownhamilton High School. Mr Simon Best, guest speaker at the event, commented how he admired the staff involved in this initiative for their dedication to creating opportunities for a better shared future for all of the young people in the area. He remarked that the team who performed a haka for the audience were very motivated young men and were an inspiration to their fellow students.

Mr Oliver Mooney, Principal of St Paul’s High School, Bessbrook conveyed his appreciation for the support of each of the partner principals and their respective Board of Governors. He commended their commitment to the targets of inclusion for all and ensuring that all pupils learn to respect and value each other’s traditions.

Building on the success and trust built up over the past number of years, the SEP schools are committed to retaining their links and are currently working together to identify further sustainable future projects which will enable them to deepen the level of sharing between the schools in the area for the benefit of all.

In September 2013 a number of GCSE students from St Paul’s High School, Newtownhamilton High School, St Joseph’s High School, Crossmaglen and Newry High School will embark on a wide range of shared courses at Key Stage 4 which they will study as part of a shared class in one of the partner schools. Mr Mark Baker from Queen’s University Belfast, remarked how this SEP partnership had not only achieved all of its original objectives but had within the three year programme managed to introduce additional initiatives for more sustainable collaboration. He commended the team for enthusiastically embracing the notion of sharing and recognised the dedication involved in making this happen from teachers, principals, Boards of Governors as well as from parents.

The PEACE partnership has recently been hailed as a flagship for interschool collaboration in Northern Ireland by the Education and Training Inspectorate who recognised the meaningful relationships that exist between the partner schools and welcomed the potential for further sharing in the future.

 

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