Adolescents’ and teachers’ experience of shared education: A small-scale qualitative study in Northern Ireland.

Caitlin Donnelly, Rebecca Loader, Aisling McLaughlin, Lesley Emerson

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This article explores adolescents’ and teachers’ interpretations of shared education through interviews with participating teachers and pupils in one school partnership in Northern Ireland. As an initiative explicitly designed to bring pupils from Catholic and majority Protestant schools together, shared education offers potential for building intergroup relations in Northern Ireland where, despite a peace agreement in 1998, life continues to be characterised by deep political and cultural division. Drawing on the qualitative data from the two participating schools, the research reveals the complexities of contact amongst adolescents in divided contexts so that, although some students frame shared education experiences in positive terms, others are discomfited by the process and report negative experiences. It argues that as adolescents’ tendency towards self-consciousness and social unease may be intensified in shared education programmes, more attention might be placed on their unique characteristics when designing and planning shared classes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Early online date28 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished online - 28 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • intergroup contact
  • negative relations
  • shared education


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