Allport’s intergroup contact theory outlines four conditions for effective contact: equal status between participants within the contact situation, cooperation, common goals, and “institutional supports (i.e. by law, custom or local atmosphere)” for contact (Allport 1954, 281). While the literature indicates that institutional support may be a particularly important condition for effective contact (Pettigrew and Tropp, 2006), its role and impact remains under-researched, particularly in studies of contact within real-world contexts. This article seeks to address this gap through a study of institutional support within a school-based contact initiative operating in two countries, Northern Ireland and North Macedonia. Known as ‘shared education’, this promotes inter-school collaboration as a means of fostering contact between pupils from different ethnic or religious backgrounds. Adopting a qualitative approach and using data collected through interviews with staff involved in four shared education projects, this study explores three aspects: the extent to which shared education demonstrates support for contact; the factors that encourage or impede supportive contact norms; and the relationship between the norms of the school and those of other authorities, particularly parents and the community.