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Minister attends Full Service School celebration

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Education Minister Caitríona Ruane today congratulated the Boys and Girls Model schools, Belfast and their partner organisations on becoming the First Full Service schools in operation.

The Full Service Schools scheme supports schools to work with voluntary and statutory agencies and neighbouring communities to offer a range of services to students, their families and the wider community such as adult learning classes, vocational classes and parental and pupil support.

The Minister took the opportunity to talk to a number of pupils and members of the community who have taken part in projects run through the scheme in the past year. One of these is a unique conflict awareness project linking Israeli and Palestinian schools with schools from across the island of Ireland, another Parenting programme offers a range of evening classes and acts as a voice for parents to enable them to become more involved in the life of the school.

The Minister said: “Schools such as these are placed right at the heart of their communities. By working together we can address the barriers to learning faced by our young people and enable them to achieve their full potential.

“We have also seen that by allowing schools and other organisations to work together and share their wide range of skills, knowledge and facilities it is not only the pupils and young people who benefit but also the wider community.”

John Graham, Principal for Girls Model commented “In our opinion the Full Service School has already made an important contribution to improving the life chances of pupils in the Model Schools.

Jim Keith, Principal for Boys Model added “It is imperative for schools, in deprived areas, especially, to work in co-operation and partnership with all agencies, both statutory and voluntary, in order to maximise the life chances of all children.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. Research in England and elsewhere confirm the positive contribution which Full Service Schools make to raising standards.
  2. Bearing Point has been appointed to evaluate the project and is utilising the services of Professor Alan Dyson of the Centre for Equity in Education at Manchester University. Professor Dyson is a leading authority on Extended Schools and Full Service Schools.
  3. The Full Service Schools project and the wider Extended Schools programme are a key vehicle for the delivery of the Ten Year Strategy for Children and Young People.
  4. The Girls Model and Boys Model schools are working closely with other schools including feeder primary schools and Our Lady of Mercy and Little Flower.
  5. Partnership organisations include Barnardos, Ulster Cancer foundation, Forum Against Substance and Alcohol abuse (FASA), Shankill Sure Start, Ardoyne and Shankill Health Partnership, Action Cancer, Community Nursing.
  6. Media queries please contact the Department of Education Press Office on 028 9127 9207 or email Press.Office@deni.gov.uk
  7. Out of office hours, please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07669 715 440 and your call will be returned.