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Minister appoints Shared Education Advisory Group

Education Minister John ODowd has announced the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Group on advancing shared education.
Thursday, 19 July 2012

The group will begin work immediately and will engage with key stakeholders as well as interested groups and individuals. It will report its findings to the Minister by February 2013.

Announcing the membership of the group, Mr O’Dowd said: “Earlier this month, the Education and Library Boards published plans for the future pattern of post-primary provision in the north. Later this year, they will publish plans for the primary sector. This is part of a strategic overhaul of how we provide education services here with the ultimate aim of providing a world-class education for every child.

“There is the scope, and need, for more shared education which will deliver quality education to all children, as well as equality, good relations and community cohesion benefits. Shared education has an important role to play and now is an opportune time to debate this across civic society.

“Today marks an important first step in exploring its potential. I have appointed Professor Paul Connolly chair of the Advisory Group and he will be assisted by Dawn Purvis and PJ O’Grady in this important work. They will provide me with advice on how shared education might be progressed, fulfilling a commitment in the Programme for Government.

“I have asked the members of the advisory group to be bold and imaginative in their advice and to put the needs of children and society before those of sectors or institutions.”

The Minister concluded: “I am committed to providing all children with an opportunity to experience shared education which I believe has the potential to deliver real educational benefits, to ensure best use of resources and to further community cohesion.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Shared Education refers to the organisation and delivery of education to meet the needs of learners of differing community background, race, ethnicity, political opinion and socio-economic status involving schools and other education providers of differing ownership, sectoral identity and ethos, management type or governance arrangements.
  2. Paul Connolly is Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education at Queen's University Belfast. He was, until recently, founding Director of the Centre for Effective Education at Queen's as well as being Director of the cross-university, interdisciplinary initiative Improving Children's Lives. He holds the prestigious Donald Dewar Visiting Chair in Social Justice and Public Policy at Glasgow University, is Editor of the international research journal, Effective Education, and is Co-Chair of the Education Coordinating Group of the international Campbell Collaboration. For more information please visit the Queen's University Belfast website.
  3. Dawn Purvis is currently an independent consultant and Chair of the Board of Healing through Remembering, a cross community organisation dealing with the legacy of the past. Until March 2011, Dawn was an Independent Unionist member in the Assembly, a former Chair of the All Party Group on Children and Young People and independent member of the Policing Board. She previously worked as an academic researcher for the Universities of Ulster and Huddersfield. Dawn has a keen interest in educational underachievement.
  4. PJ O’Grady has recently retired after 14 years as Headmaster of St Patrick’s College, Bearnageeha, North Belfast. He has always worked in the catholic education system and is a strong advocate of ‘faith based schooling’. He is a founder member of the Catholic Principals Association. His visionary work for the betterment of community relations has been recognised by many including President McAleese, Rotary NI, Business in the Community and the University of Ulster who has recently awarded him an honorary doctorate for ‘school transformation and contributions to cross community life’.
  5. Watch video from the Department of Education on our YouTube channel.
  6. View photos from the Department of Education in our collection at Flickr.
  7. Media enquiries to the Department of Education’s Communications Team on Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.