Shared Education: Building Positive Intergroup Relations in Divided Societies

Impact: Public Policy Impact, Societial Impact


The education system in Northern Ireland (NI) is divided on ethno-religious lines, with around 94% of pupils attending predominantly co-religionist (Catholic or Protestant) schools. Research by Hughes and Gallagher on intergroup contact and the role of education in divided societies led to the establishment of the Sharing Education Programme (SEP) at Queen’s to test and model cross-denominational school collaboration. The SEP has established 23 collaborative networks involving 130 schools and 16,000 pupils. The programme facilitates sustained encounters between Protestants and Catholics, and has led to more positive intergroup responses amongst participants. Shared Education informed a review of community relations policy in education, and was identified as a priority in the Programme for Government (2012), and a Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG) was established. Drawing extensively on the SEP model and associated research, the MAG report recommends that shared education is mainstreamed in Northern Ireland and these recommendations have been fully accepted by the Minister of Education. The shared education model is also being transferred to other divided jurisdictions, including Macedonia and Israel.
Impact statusOngoing
Category of impactPublic Policy Impact, Societial Impact