School collaboration in a divided society: shared education in Northern Ireland

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Abstract

Northern Ireland is a society divided by political, national and religious identities. Between 1968 and 1998 there was a violent political conflict in which 3,700 people died. Throughout the conflict many looked to schools to work to improve community relations, even though the school system itself was divided on largely religious grounds. This chapter looks at education interventions in Northern Ireland aimed at promoting conflict transformation, with a particular focus on the shared education work of the 2000s which is based on collaborative networks of schools from the different communities. The collaboration involved in the shared education initiative is based on a participatory approach which emphasises teacher-led innovation and locally tailored school partnerships. This is in contrast to the defining features of the Northern Ireland school system which has always had a hierarchist character, even when education reforms in the 1990s introduced market principles and school competition. The chapter analyses education policy and practice in light of these frameworks and considers the potential tension between the shared education approach given the prevailing ethos of the Northern Ireland education system. It suggests that the consequences of this potential tension remain unclear.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSchool to school collaboration: learning across international contexts
EditorsPaul Armstrong, Chris Brown
Place of PublicationLeeds
PublisherEmerald Publishing
Chapter9
Pages157-168
ISBN (Electronic)9781800436688
ISBN (Print)9781800436695
Publication statusPublished - 26 Sept 2022

Keywords

  • education
  • collaboration
  • networks
  • Northern Ireland
  • comparative
  • policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • Education

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