Northern Ireland

Shared education campus scheme opens in Northern Ireland

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Media captionWork is under way to build the campus at Lisanelly in Omagh

Schools across Northern Ireland can now apply for funding to set up shared education campuses.

The first and deputy first minister revealed plans last May for 10 campuses where Protestant and Catholic children would be educated on the same site.

Letters have now been sent to primary and secondary schools, informing them of what criteria must be met.

Campuses must be cross-community and be supported by both local people and the education authorities.

Schools that can prove they have already been sharing across the sectors will be preferred.

Work has already begun on the Lisanelly shared campus for six schools in Omagh, but the Department of Education acknowledges that this project is probably unique.

Instead the most likely plans will be for smaller schemes, and for shared facilities to be built or expanded for the joint use of at least two schools.

Applications must be submitted by the end of March, and the first round of decisions will be made by June.

The programme is part of the Northern Ireland Executive's Together: Building a United Community strategy,

Stormont Education Minister John O'Dowd said: "The programme will complement the work already under way on shared education and area planning and will be targeted at infrastructure projects aimed at improving or facilitating sharing initiatives within local schools.

"It will have the potential to bring together a range of schools and aid shared participation in classes, sports and extra-curricular activities."

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