PEACE IV Shared Education. Launch of impact evaluation findings

SJC consultancy, in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, was commissioned by Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB) to undertake an impact evaluation of EU PEACE IV-funded ‘Shared Education’.

The Shared Education objective of the PEACE IV Programme is designed to create a culture of good relations amongst school children and equip them with the skills and attitudes needed to help build a more cohesive, peaceful and prosperous society.    

The impact evaluation findings were launched on 15th April, at the start of a week of social media activity to share the messages around the positive impact Shared Education has had for those involved. 

Watch SEUPB CEO, Gina McIntyre, officially launch the findings below.

SEUPB CEO, Gina McIntyre, launches the Shared Education findings

This cross-border PEACE IV Programme is being delivered by two projects:

I think the programme is fantastic!! Our pupils have learnt how to make friends, move out of their comfort zones, and see a new perspective in a fun and supportive environment. We, as teachers enjoy the same. Please let it grow so more schools, children, teachers, parents, and communities will join together and benefit.

Principal, Primary School

PEACE IV Shared Education has helped to develop a ‘whole-school’ commitment to the concept of sharing. It has increased the number of schools/pre-schools sharing facilities and delivered high quality training to more than 1,400 teachers and early years’ practitioners across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland.  By the time the PEACE IV Programme ends it is anticipated that 144,000 children, on both sides of the border, will have been able to participate in Shared Education classrooms.

Watch the compilation video showcasing the range of activities that children take part in during shared sessions below.

Shared Education - children enjoying shared classes

Shared Education

The €33.1m PEACE IV Shared Education projects, delivered across Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland, have to date benefited:

• 482 pre-schools/schools i.e. 98 pre-schools and 384 primary and post-primary schools exceeding PEACE IV target (Target: 350).

• Almost 1,500 practitioners/teachers have already completed training and now have the capacity to facilitate Shared Education (Target 2,1000 by 2023).

• By its conclusion, Shared Education will have benefited 144,000 children.

€4.2M: Sharing from the Start (SFTS) involving early years settings
€28.9M: Collaboration and Sharing in Education (CASE) involving primary schools and post-primary schools

Key findings

The impact evaluation incorporated a number of elements, including an online survey of early years principals and practitioners, focus interviews with key stakeholders, a review of project partner monitoring data, and in-depth case studies across seven Shared Education partnerships.

Key findings include:

Shared Education has proved to have educational, societal and economic benefits. These include:

  • Access to a wider education/curriculum experience. Facilitating the sharing of ideas and good practice between education providers.
  • Equipping education providers and children with the skills and attitudes needed to promote a culture of tolerance and mutual understanding, achieved through regular, sustained contact, and learning with those from different community backgrounds and between pre-schools/schools and the wider community
  • Making more effective and efficient use of limited equipment and resources.

Children

Almost all (95%) agreed that CASE/SFTS has led to improved educational outcomes for participating children by providing access to a wider education/curriculum experience. 

  • 92% agreed children have a greater sense of the wider community for example, explore the wider community through shared learning, knowledge of different areas in the locality, travelling on a bus, customs, festivals, celebrations etc.

Educational benefits

  • 94% agreed it allowed children to do activated they wouldn’t have been able to do if there was no Shared Education.
  • 94% agreed it improved children’s confidence.
  • 93% agreed it improved children’s communication skills.
  • 88% agreed it improved children’s social skills.

Cross-Community Friendships

  • 93% agreed it has led to children making friends in the shared class room, with teachers observing social development and many close relationships emerging over the duration of the programme.
  • 61% agree that these friendships extend into home/community life

Dealing with Differences

  • 85% agree that children can describe ways that they are similar and different to others in a shared classroom
  • 96% agree it allowed children to meet other adults and comfortable with them
  • 93% agree children feel comfortable and at ease when in their partner pre-school/school.

Teachers

  • 96 % agree that involvement in CASE/SFTS has enhanced their ability and confidence to lead Shared Education initiatives.
  • 96% agree it provided opportunities for peer support and sharing good practice.
  • 94% agree it improved professional teaching skills and knowledge.
  • 93% agree it increased access to curriculum resources.
  • 89% agree it increased access to external professional expertise.
  • 95% practitioners and teachers agree it improved cross-community understanding and relationships

Pre-school/School/Governors/Parents

  • 75% agree that there has been increased integration of our pre-school/school within the wider community.
  • 65% agree that there has been increased opportunities for cross-community engagement for parents.
  • 89% agree that feedback from Boards of Governors/Management was very positive (41%) or positive (48%)

You can watch an animated summary of findings below.

This programme allows children and their parents at this very young age to realise that uniforms do not make us any different; we all experience the same activities and interactions, and all of our schools are warm and welcoming environments for everyone regardless of age, culture, religion etc.

Principal, Nursery School