Northern Ireland

Jobs lost as funds run out for shared teachers scheme

Media captionThe scheme saw teachers shared by Catholic and controlled primary schools

A scheme that employed teachers to be shared by Catholic and controlled primary schools has ended.

This is despite the fact that it was judged a big success in getting schools, pupils and parents of different religions to mingle.

The loss of funding means ten jobs for shared teachers have been lost.

Twenty-three schools in County Antrim took part in a series of partnerships between schools attended mostly by either Catholics or Protestants.

The results were deemed impressive, but charity funding has now ended.

Mary O'Kane, principal of St Brigid's Primary School, Mayogall, said: "I think it is very disappointing. I realise there are priorities on finances and budgets from every quarter. But we benefited from having this and we would dearly have loved to have been able to continue with it."

Two schools thought the scheme was so valuable that they are spending their own budgets to buy in a shared teacher for two days a week.

Donna Winters of Duneane Primary and Emer Hughes of Moneynick Catholic Primary have clubbed together to find the money but Ms Winters said: "We don't know how long we'll be able to fund the shared teacher ourselves, even though we do want to continue it at all costs".

Mrs Hughes said: "The results have been amazing, not just for pupils but for teachers, principals and parents."

'Self-sustaining'

The cross-community partnerships have made some schools consider setting up shared campuses in the future.

A spokeswoman for the North Eastern Education and Library Board, which administered the project, said it was not in a position to continue, but it was pleased that the scheme was leaving "a lasting legacy".

The cross-community partnerships have made some schools consider setting up shared campuses in the future.

The Department of Education said while funding provided by the International Fund for Ireland and Atlantic Philanthropies ran out last month, one of the programme's objectives was to "transfer acquired skills and resources to participating schools so that they became self-sustaining".

"The Department of Education is currently working with OFMDFM and Atlantic Philanthropies with a view to establishing a funding programme to support shared education," a spokesperson said.

"Lessons learned from the programme and other similar projects will be taken into account when developing any future funding programme."

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